My Presto pressure cooker lost its cool last evening just before dinner. And I’ve been wondering why.
Hey, I’m the one who’s been on the boil all week. I’ve been recovering from the flu. I’ve missed a deadline. My brain’s been so fried it won’t cook up the right story idea for a writing contest. That’s not like me: I’m always frothing with ideas. But the last week has been a tease.
On Saturday, I grazed the bumper of a stationary white van at a half-empty parking lot. And what do you know, I took ethics to the extreme: I actually left the van owner my phone number starting with the right area code.
“Did you have to, mom? You could have snuck away, you know!” my son suggested later, reminding me that the man would never have known that I’d hit him until I pointed it out with a note stuck under his windshield wiper. And then, on Sunday, my husband just about averted what could have been a major accident on an expressway up in San Ramon. And yesterday, Tuesday, my son swung our van onto the road, barely missing being rear-ended by a lady who gave him the finger. Did she care to know my son was an even-tempered, good-natured student driver who got decent grades and played a beastly game of Scrabble? Apparently not.
Like the lady, it seemed that my cooker, way past warranty, had begun steaming in an unwarranted fashion long before I set it on the stovetop. Did pressure cookers sense the pressure, I wondered? Did they know when their owner was stewing with frustration? Would my Presto have known that the cook’s fence had needed repair for months and that the cook’s husband’s was on the fence over a decision? Could it blow its lid just because the plumbing in one of our bathrooms blew hot and cold like a woman during her monthly flow? Could it fume because the male component of the home hadn’t called the plumber–which, in turn, had made the female component simmer and spout expletives?
Yesterday, when my Presto shot up and crashed, still whole, on to the ground and sprayed every surface up and down with kidney bean puree, our family emerged unscathed. The cooker crash-landed two feet to my left, its fifty-pound pressure sculpting a hairline crack on my limestone floor. I came away with a mild scald on my right shin. My son, who normally hung out in the kitchen at that hour was in his room studying for his SAT. My husband who would normally have been standing right where the cooker had landed because that’s about where he stands while drinking tea or stirring in the sugar was across on the other side of our island kitchen. The debris shot as far as thirty feet away into the family room but all was well, even though our home reeked like Chipotle’s kitchen at lunchtime. My cherry cabinets didn’t need staining this year, that was for sure.
In minutes, my husband, whose forte is to be forthright and spill the beans wherever he goes, was on all fours cleaning up the burritoed kitchen. In her rib-tickling memoir, “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace”, Ayelet Waldman congratulates herself and her husband for sharing housework and she reminds readers that “there is nothing sexier to a woman with children than a man holding a Swiffer”. Yesterday, my man was on the floor with a cotton rag–swiffering, wiping, rinsing, squeezing, cleaning, polishing, buffing.
Our Presto cooker had not only taught me that life last week could have been much worse. But, hey, presto, it had brought my husband to his knees.