To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Allow me to amend that proverb: To the man with an axe, everything looks like firewood.
I was down in the basement, splitting up some logs for kindling. After I got done I came upstairs. I brought the axe up with me and walked all around the house with it. I had this powerful urge to chop down my house.
I took practice swings and stopped just short of hitting the walls. I tapped the flat of the blade against door frames.
I like to chop. In this house, I burn wood for warmth. A beautiful hundred-year-old stove sits in my kitchen. In front of the stove on a mat is the rocking chair where my grandmother used to rock. My cat and I take turns on the chair whenever there’s a fire going.
It seems to be his turn right now. You’ll be glad to hear that Vickers the Cat is doing well these days, fat and happy, curled up and fast asleep.
I don’t cook on this stove though. Hell no… I’m a hermit, not a Luddite. For cooking I have this cute little oven with two burners on top. It’s rigged so you can’t have the oven and either of the burners on at the same time. And the burners only have three settings: off, super-crazy-hot, and super-crazy-wicked-hot.
I made a pot of rice today. Let me tell you about the way I cook. I put the pot or the pan on the stove, I turn the burner up. Then I immediately leave the room because I hate being in the same room where there’s food cooking. I set a timer or check back every few minutes or however often is necessary, until everything is done. Or if the food’s not quite ready and I’m really hungry, I’ll just start to eat standing up right out of the pot on the stove.
I love to eat but I hate cooking. Throughout university I worked in a kitchen environment, and it left me with a lifelong revulsion towards preparing any kind of food. What really gives me the creeps is cooking with other people around. Everyone’s got an opinion. There’s always someone who feels the need to look over my shoulder and say something like, “That’s not the right way to cut up an onion.”
And now you are every shitty supervisor at every shitty job I’ve ever had. How about I demonstrate the right way to kill you in the eye with this knife.
Anyway enough negativity, I love to eat and I get by OK and if you feed me I will get a big crush on you. So I made a pot of rice today. I put the burner on super-crazy-wicked-hot to get the water boiling, and since there’s no “simmer” on this stove I turned it down to the next nearest setting, which happens to be “off,” so that I could let it simmer for 20 minutes just like it says so, right here on the package.
And then I immediately left the kitchen and went upstairs and fooled around with iMovie on my computer for a while. The package said 20 minutes but I wound up leaving the rice for half-an-hour just to make sure it was good and done. Actually I forgot about it for a while. When I came downstairs, I discovered that I had turned burner down, not to “off,” but merely to “super-crazy-hot.”
A great joy bubbled into my heart along with the smoke coming up off the stove. What a legendary achievement. I, Philip Clark, had managed to ruin a pot of simple white rice. This is indeed a special day in the history of bachelorhood.
Have you ever experienced that distinct smell of burning rice? No, of course you haven’t. You’ve never ruined rice in your life. Let me tell you, I have smelled it. I have been there and back. I have been to war. I have seen things you people would not believe.
Turns out more than just the rice was ruined. I think I ruined the pot as well. My pot… my cute little rice-making pot. He’s black on the bottom and all gummed up.
I always liked that pot. Poor little guy. Now what am I going to do?
Today I have destroyed not just one single meal. I have destroyed the entire future of rice-making, forever. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Whenever I run into old-timers around the village they always have the same advice. “What are you doing living down there all alone? You need to get yourself a wife down there.”
There are days when I think about it, like today. But deep down I suspect I’m just not the marrying kind.
I’m going to go open a can of sardines.