The Stove: Part I

I’ve just returned from my first, post-COVID trip. Oops that may very well be an oxymoron–call me a cynic, but I’m not convinced with the number of anti-vaxers it’s possible. Moving on, I spent almost 2 weeks visiting my kids in North and in South Carolina, where I was still awed by lush green landscape, occasional thunderstorms, and tree frogs that hung on the porch windows. Such a contrast to drought-ridden, burned up Phoenix.

My first stop was Wilmington, NC, where my youngest and her husband had relocated two weeks prior. (It was her birthday, and since her cancer bout I make an effort to be there to celebrate her new year.) Though I did offer to take the two of them out for birthday dinner, my kid wanted homemade spaghetti and meatballs. No problem. Meatballs mixed, baked in the oven, plopped in a rich sauce in a crockpot to simmer for several hours. With the salad prepared, the garlic bread ready for a quick dash under the broiler, it was time to boil the pasta. Angel hair is her preference; dinner would be served in 10 minutes. WRONG.

“Lena, help me. I can’t turn on the stovetop burner.”

“Mom, just look. Press the square that says power on.”

“I did. It just blinks.”

Thirty minutes had passed and neither my kid, nor my son-in-law could turn on the burner. Midway through their efforts, I left the kitchen to stifle my laughter. They were so frustrated! Young tech-savvy folk who thought I was dumb. Finally, Lena found some contraption I’d never seen, plugged it into an outlet and anchored it into a pot of water. “Mom, what’s the temperature of boiling water?”

Oh, ye gods! And we paid a fortune for her college education. “212 degrees. Didn’t you ever learn that?” My suppressed laughter was making my sides ache.

“The thermostat only goes to 195 degrees. But let’s give it a try.” And so, another 25 minutes passed. I put some pasta in the water to see what would happen. Nothing a a stale stench of a long-opened box of angel hair. I went to the restroom. Who says one’s best ideas don’t spring from the toity? When I emerged, “John, I’ve an idea. Will you make a quick run to Walmart and buy a hot plate? We could have used the one on your grill, but you’re out of propane. A hot plate will allow me to boil the pasta, and we can finally eat.”

Lo and behold John returned with a double-burner! At nine PM, I served birthday dinner. I could barely eat due to my smug humor roiling inside. The couple rued the fact a broken cooktop was not disclosed in the sale of their house, as they made plans to purchase another. However, Lena found the stove’s instruction book and the next morning announced she’d figured out the problem. Induction cooktops require special cookware, so instead of buying a new unit for $1,000+, she bought four special pans for $500+. However, John could have bought three, dual cook plates for a mere $75, which may have not been as attractive, but they would not require rocket science to operate.

Two weeks have passed; why do I still find this event so utterly amusing?

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