Thursday, July 20, 2017


From: "Barbara Malley"
To: Friend Whose Favorite Vegetable Is Not Broccoli
Subject: Innocent Purchase

     Saturday was a crazy, domino-theory sort of a day, with one bad move following another bad move, things tumbling down, and our planet's elements forming a conspiracy aimed directly at me.
     Does buying a bunch of broccoli sound like a dangerous thing to do?  It was on sale at the Fruit Center, so I made my innocuous purchase, never expecting the trouble that would follow.
     I got out my cutting board, sliced off the fibrous stems on the broccoli, and turned on the electric burner so it would be ready to steam the inch of water in my small saucepan. I began artfully placing the flowerets in the pan as if I were making a flower arrangement.
      Nothing threatening here, right? But wait. I had accidentally turned on the front burner instead of the back one, and while I was flower arranging, had jostled my plastic lunch tray onto the red-hot burner. I smelled something burning and was aghast when I turned my head and saw the left side of the tray bursting into flames.
      I grabbed the non-flaming side, whisked it over to the sink, and turned the faucet on the flames. During this maneuver, I knocked my broccoli arrangement onto the floor, where it predictably landed upside down and spewed water and green sprigs all over the tiles.
      With the fire extinguished, I realized the pungent plastic fumes were making me dizzy.  I opened the door to the hall, praying the smoke alarm wouldn't betray me to my neighbors by screaming about my bizarre cooking practices. Then I flung open the sliding door to my balcony, welcoming the west wind's blast of fresh air. Still feeling faint and slightly disoriented, I rushed to my bedroom and flung open its sliding door. This created a wind tunnel that snatched my draperies and plastered them against the screen, which then fell with a crash onto the balcony.
     This is what I mean by conspiring elements.  Broccoli from the earth, water from the faucet, fire from the stove, and wind from the west. The combination left me with a headache and unprepared for guests. The screen is still leaning against my balcony’s railing, waiting for my son-in-law to place it in its track some day when he has time.
     I have several little tasks like that for Frank.  My kitchen sink has been stopped up for a month, so I've been doing my dishes in the bathtub.  A two-drawer filing cabinet from my study closet is sitting between the living room and the hall, waiting for Frank to bring it to Kathie. A couple of times I forgot it was there as I rounded the corner in my usual hasty way.  Crashing into it jogged my memory.
     As for those green sprigs marinating on my kitchen floor, you would doubtless say it serves me right for having anything to do with broccoli. Excuse me while I get a Turkish towel and push it around with my foot--the only way to mop when you're not as young as you used to be. 

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