That Was Close

Wisdom does not automatically come with age. Nothing does – except wrinkles – Abigail Van Buren

I have reached another milestone in my life – a marker, a crossroad, a bloodcurdling signpost.

A dear friend (or so I thought), Louise Levine, gave me a gift, a decadent indulgence of sorts – a Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Rich Mocha Latte in a special container. I saved this treat for when I could enjoy it (translation – not have to share it with Lora) with my butt firmly planted in my La-Z-Boy, watching the football game. With kickoff approaching, I read the directions like any man would (translation – glanced at them with one eye while scratching myself), and then popped it into the microwave. Having never heated anything in the microwave for eight minutes before, I grew impatient and stuck my schnozola to the glass door and peered in. With two minutes left on the timer, I noticed a spot on the floor in the shape of Albania. No sooner had I bent over to investigate, when I heard what could best be described as the Space Shuttle breaking wind in my kitchen. Naturally, (notice I said naturally, not manly) I screamed like an Olsen twin noticing a zit. I felt the contrail of the tempered-glass turntable as it shot out of the microwave like a Frisbee slung by Roger (the Rocket) Clemens. The kitchen and dining room resembled a cave-in at the Willy Wonka Chocolate Mine. I started hacking like Willie Nelson after a long, deep, hit of oregano, and envisioned a future headline – “Montecito Journal Humorist Dies Of CDP (Cocoa Dust Poisoning).”

I coughed, and cussed. I cussed, and coughed. I cussed, and I cussed, and I cussed my house down. I just couldn’t stop saying “son of a biscuit,” or something very close to that. I should’ve known that anything with the word gourmet on it was not meant for me. I found what was left of the Wolfgang Puck container in the living room, on my La-Z-Boy, mocking me.

At that moment, Lora returned from shopping, took one look at me and the kitchen, and shook her head. But, she often looks at me and shakes her head. At least she didn’t call me a mooncalf this time.

My cat, Zoe, who’d been sleeping on a dining room chair, disappeared like a gypsy tenant. Poster feline for the Scaredy Cat Corporation, Zoe has spent her entire life running from frightening noises like a timer going off, leaping out of her skin from terrifying disasters like a pencil falling off the table, and in general being terrorized by phantom monsters. When she finally emerged from under the bed, she had an unmistakable “I told you so” look on her puss.

While in the middle of cleanup, still unable to stop cussing, though “Wolfgang Puck” (or something very close to Wolfgang Puck) had now taken the place of “son of a biscuit,” Lora entered the kitchen holding the disemboweled container. “Did you read the directions?”

“Of course,” I said. “Did you look up Alan Dershowitz’s number like I asked?”

Lora continued, “It says here, self-heating.”

“What the heck does that mean?” I said. “If you can’t get Dershowitz, call Johnnie Cochran!”

“He’s dead.”

“Gloryhog Allred then.”

“It’s Gloria.” Lora traced her finger across the container’s remains. “My, God, you mooncalf (I knew it was coming)! It says right here!” She stuck the can in my chalky face.

I read the scorched print – DO NOT MICROWAVE.

Milestones like this are important to note, I think. Your first car, your first love, your first, second, and fourth marriage.

How long before I spray RAID insecticide on the frying pan instead of PAM? How long before I find myself sitting in my truck in some poor soul’s living room saying, “I thought I was hitting the brake?” How long before I suffer from the inability to pronounced new words or drive all the way to Ventura with my left turn signal on? How long before I find myself in the ladies room peeing? Sure, I’ve done this several times already, but not sober!

Now that I’ve had to time reflect on this incident, I wonder what caused me to bend down a millisecond before the explosion. Was it a love for Albania? I think not. Maybe the nuns at Catechism were right. Maybe there really are guardian angels. I hope mine can do shiatsu massage, and I’m thankful that one of us can read directions.