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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kitchen Crisis

“Mom! Ryan stuck the vacuum cleaner hose up under the stove and now there’s smoke coming out of his pants!”

I opened one eye and waited while the whirling scenes behind my eyeballs settled into recognizable figures. A young boy stood by the bed, the very bed upon which I collapsed in the early hours of the morning after arriving home from an intimate anniversary trip to the coast with my husband and his MasterCard. This must be a dream. I closed the errant eye gratefully.

“Mom. The turtle is missing out of his pocket!”

I’ve heard you can change the course of your dream if you concentrate. I concentrated on Continental breakfasts on the hotel terrace. I concentrated on platters of pastries and piles of fragrant fresh fruits of the season. I tried to concentrate on going back to sleep, but this act is difficult when confronted with a young boy leaning in close enough to breathe your exhaust and visions of Hoover-bound turtles are dancing in your head. Unless that turtle was Michelangelo or one of his Teenage Mutant Ninja buddies, he was probably exiting my son’s shorts in a puff of I Dream of Jeannie Smoke.

Fine. If reality was going to intrude into my unconsciousness and stomp barefoot across my fantasies, I’d get up. I swept down the hall in a swirl of pink nylon and polyester lace to take command of the sandstorm.

“What are you doing?” I shrieked, fanning away the clouds of dust that threatened to cover my body like a “just add water” mud pack.

“Good morning, Mom,” Ryan greeted me calmly without looking up from the task at hand, which seemed to be a daring attempt to suck the oven’s inner workings piece by piece into the vacuum. “Jeffrey’s dinosaur head rolled under here, so I thought I’d get it out so he wouldn’t bother you.” A fresh pillar of dust-filled smoke arose as he hit a warren of dust bunnies that didn’t need to worry about finding a place on the endangered species list.

Son Two, The Informer, was right. As Ryan knelt on hands and knees on what must be the kitchen floor, jabbing at the stove with a vacuum cleaner bayonet, the clouds appeared to be passing through the billowing folds of his star-spangled shorts. I couldn’t imagine a prettier picture to greet me after a week of soaring seabirds and glimmering shells at sunset. A threadbare moon in my kitchen.

I wrenched open the kitchen door and turned on the ceiling fan, industrious actions that succeeded in creating a tornado-like whirlwind that rerouted the dusty smoke back up Ryan’s boxers. Seen through sunlight filtered by vacuum exhaust with dust clouds rolling up one leg and down the other, my oldest son looked like a “person of interest” in a Stephen King novel.

“Here, let me,” I screamed over the roar of the vacuum sucking up dust clots, Jeffrey jumping up and down like a caffeinated flea, and Lucy the semi-dachshund barking disapproval of the chaos. I grabbed the vacuum hose from Ryan and knelt down to survey the situation. As I squatted, not wanting to commit to a full bend and kneel unless absolutely necessary, the vacuum hose brushed the flimsy pink folds of my gown and sucked a foot or so of the delicate fabric inside. I immediately voiced my surprise and disapproval in a calm and controlled manner.

“Stop screaming and stand still!” Ryan grabbed one edge of the flimsy material and began to heave mightily in the manner of someone wrestling an unruly reptile.

“Help!” I squealed back as the struggles resulted in a blow to my left eye and a near-miss indiscretion involving my modesty.

“Excuse me. Is this a bad time?” asked a friendly voice. I squinted through my remaining good eye and discovered the local pastor peering in the open kitchen door from the steps outside. Dropping by to inquire about my trip, the good man took in this lovely picture of family unity: Me, dabbing at my swollen eye with a dishcloth, my nightdress sucked down the vacuum hose while the three of us--the vacuum hose, the nightdress, and me—snaked around my teenage son whose heavenly-body boxers flapped as he endeavored mightily to wrest me loose, and my youngest offspring jumping about excitedly in backwards pants with a lizard’s tail flapping from the back pocket which was now in front.

“Can I be of assistance?

“Pull the plug!”

Responding to emergency situations is an important part of a pastor’s life’s work and he responded admirably. He lunged through the door and remedied the situation with a yank to the snarling monster’s cord.

Slowly, my night dress drizzled back down my thighs and the swirling clouds of dust began to silt at our feet. I stammered and sputtered, looking for an explanation that didn't involve animal abuse, child neglect, or chiffon in the kitchen after breakfast time.

The good pastor collapsed in a chair at the kitchen table as dust bunnies swirled around his head in a halo pattern before coming to rest on his shoulders. He took in the situation with a soulful look and began to laugh.

“I’d use you in my sermon this week,” he paused to wipe his eyes. “But I don’t know if you would fit in better with The Good Samaritan or,” he winced as he pulled a small, surprised turtle out from under him, “the Ten Plagues of Egypt.”


Blessed said...

OK, I shouldn't have read that when I was having to be quiet to keep from waking up my husband and daughter... great story, and I could see it happening to me... maybe I shouldn't want more than one child :)

the Bag Lady said...

Goodness....all that before breakfast? What a wild household you have!!!!

Elizabeth said...

A masterpiece! BTW, it's plaid, I'm on my other Blogger acct.

Pink Ink said...

I’d use you in my sermon this week,” he paused to wipe his eyes. “But I don’t know if you would fit in better with The Good Samaritan or,” he winced as he pulled a small, surprised turtle out from under him, “the Ten Plagues of Egypt.”

Love this story! :-)

-Pink Ink, AW

colbymarshall said...

Haha- I love it. I used to have a turtle (who now lives with my mother following the threat of "death by cat") so I know that problems they can cause when they "escape" :-)