In my main ‘day job’ I work with lawyers, lots and lots of lawyers. Today as I was yukking it up with Craig-The-Lawyer, he mentioned a key meeting tomorrow and asked me to ‘light a candle’. Without skipping a beat, I quickly retorted, “Well, I’ll do my best but I have a little problem with fire.”
“What is that,” he asked innocently?
Muttering an internal “dang it” for blathering on so quickly with that comment, I pulled out some of my stock burned-leg phraseology, “Oh, when I was a kid I climbed up a stove and burned the crap out of my leg.”
“Did you?” he said and again I added too much more content.
“I did. I was trying to get a cookie or a cracker from the cabinet above the stove and well, it didn’t go so well. My shoe got stuck on the burner and it wasn’t pretty.”
“You’re kidding?” he half-queried. I realized I might now be stuck in one of those lawyer-socratic-phrase interchanges where I would soon head down the proverbial “slippery slope” of this repartee. I’d offered too much. I was conversational toast.
“You know, the same thing happened to me,” he said.
“You’re kidding!” I countered, bemused and intrigued at the same time.”
“Yeah, I must have been four or five and I wanted to get some of the cookies we kept in the cabinet above the stove. But keep in mind that I was kind of short fellow then so I took the phone book with me, climbed up the stove and put the book over the burner. Wouldn’t you know it but I accidentally turned the burner on high. I got the cookie, but the book got torched and I’ll tell you, the whole thing scarred me for life.”
“It was a gas stove, wasn’t it?” I interrupted, now taking over the role of questioner.
“Matter of fact, it wasn’t. It was an electric stove. My wife was talking about getting a gas stove the other day and I told her that based on my experience with the electric stove, we could not get a gas one. That would be certain death for me,” he laughed.
“Wait. Are you telling me you had the exact same experience I did but you didn’t get burned?” I couldn’t believe anyone would have a similar story, an almost verbatim same experience.
“What I’m telling you is that I seem to be a whole lot smarter than you,” he teased. “I brought along that phone book and it worked a whole lot better than your strategy did.”
And so it was true. My mind raced. How many families kept cookies in the cabinet above their electric stove? How many little kids had exactly the same precocious crazy idea as Craig-The-Lawyer and I did? How many more people did I know who would share some sort of similar death-defying childhood feat?
In my earlier blog post, Cabinets Above Stoves (https://annegallagher8.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/cabinets-above-stoves/), I wrote about my strange sensitivity for placing goodies above the cooker. It doesn’t seem so strange anymore. In fact, I can attest to countless conversations with my relatives and childhood friends who, as adults, will tell me, “You know, I have to tell you. I’ve told my kids about your accident and it’s how we talk about being careful in the kitchen.” At first, it used to take me aback to hear these things, as if burning-my-leg-by-climbing-up-a-stove was my lasting legacy. Over time however I found it almost reassuring — that if I was to be the poster child for stove-related accident prevention, I could live with being a something of an off-beat hero.
By the way, the wry title of this post “What are the Chances?” is obviously a rhetorical question. Years ago, I might have thought that running into people like Craig-the-Lawyer who have similar stories to share was an anomaly. Now, I know that it is just the path I’m on these days. Lots of serendipity. No coincidences.
- Cooking hazards… (hereisakiss.wordpress.com)
- Over Stove & Lime Boards (gowanusfurniture.com)
- The Space Around the Stove: Best Thing to Put There? (thekitchn.com)
- Note to self: gas stoves are very different from electric stoves. Don’t let anybody tell you differently. (wishverse.wordpress.com)