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Monday, June 26, 2017

(6) "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE POTATOES?"

February 12, 1956
Fort Lauderdale, Florida


     We are enjoying our vacation with Ed’s dad and stepmother—although Tina and I occasionally have Trouble in the Kitchen. She doesn’t read instructions, she does things backwards, but her meals are out of this world. One night I insisted on getting dinner by myself—I wanted to try the Seven-Heat Economy Cooker that came with our stove—and burned the potatoes. Tina and Ed kept assuring me they were tastier that way, (“just like campfire potatoes,” said Tina), but Grandpa, unaware that I had taken over the cooking, wanted to know what the hell happened to the potatoes.   
     Tina persists in putting the table butter in the refrigerator. I keep moving it to the cupboard because I dislike mutilating my toast when I spread it. Yesterday I left the butter dish on the hot stove and it runneth over. I also cremated the toast, which wouldn’t have happened if Tina hadn’t confused me by changing the toaster’s dial. Fortunately, the folks weren’t up yet. It took me half an hour to eliminate all traces of disaster, but it was worth it. Never let it be said that Ed is dieting in self-defense.
     Ed and his dad don’t see eye to eye on things, either. In fact, if one discovers he’s agreeing with the other, he switches sides. The trouble is, they’re both bossy. Or to put it another way, they’re both leaders. (That’s the way Ed puts it.) Grandpa has a habit of treating Ed as if he were still his little boy instead of a grown man who has a license and hangovers—the stubborn kid just won’t mind.
     “When’re ya going to get a haircut, for crying out loud!” yells Grandpa.
     “Haircut? How can I wear a ponytail if I get a haircut!” yells Ed.
     The sale-priced washing machine arrived from Sears, Roebuck yesterday. The four of us spent an hour standing around in the kitchen arguing over how to run it. Tina had one like it once, so she thought she knew everything.
     “But Tina,” I said, “it says in the book not to put the clothes in until the tub is full of water.”
     “Oh, never mind the book!” she says. (She has the same attitude about everything else, including the pressure cooker. “Tina, the book says when it hisses like that, there’s something wrong.” “Oh, never mind the book,” she says.)
     The washing machine has a wonderful invention attached to it called a wringer. You push a button and the dirty water pumps out of the tub and into the sink. You feed the clothes through the wringer, keeping in mind its propensity to bite the hand that feeds it. Then you go out in the yard, where the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing, and you dreamily hang up the clothes, feeling like a pioneer woman.
     After you’ve hung them up, you take them down again because you remember you forgot to rinse them.  Never mind, it will be fun matching wits with the wringer again.

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