Monday, January 4, 2010

The Enormous Pot of Potatoes, the Fireman and the Psycho.

Wow! I made it to the big time! I’m in The Fly! Thank you, thank you for this honor!

I don’t have much to say about this week's letters to Prudie that hasn't been said by much abler advisors than me. So I’ll get back to reminiscing --as befits my senior predicament.

So in this episode, I’ve moved from the place on Maple Street (the pants’ thief neighborhood) and am now living in a cute little rented house on C Street.

I’m not sure where to begin this story. Well, even though he’s marginal, I’ll start with the neighbor across my yard. His living room was always dark but he had no curtains or blinds so we could see him at his window constantly rocking in, you guessed it, a rocking chair. He didn’t seem to leave his house at regular intervals like the rest of us working stiffs did. My boyfriend opined that the guy was the psycho in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.

One day a dear friend asked me to help with her daughter’s wedding by taking charge of the potato salad for the outdoor festivities. I promised to deliver a turkey roaster filled with my very popular (if I may say so myself....) potato salad. So I took out my trusted enormous cooking pot (at least three times the size of a standard stock pot –how I came into possession of that huge pot is a story all by itself), filled it with twenty pounds of potatoes, submerged them, and put it on the stove to boil.

Now this was a pretty old electric stove. After the potatoes had boiled for about ten minutes, a sort of bolt of lightening about a foot high came out of the burner. I rushed and turned that burner off, but lo and behold, the lightening popped up on another burner that was turned off and then another. It was going in circles following the rings of each burner.

I frantically looked for a plug at the back of the stove but couldn’t find any. It seemed to have been directly connected to the wall.

So I called 911.

I did tell the 911 operator that it was just a little thing. An out of control stove but I didn’t know how to turn it off. Perhaps if someone happened to be available and in the neighborhood he/she might help me?

So next thing, I heard sirens coming closer and closer to my house. I took a peak and what did I see? There was a huge fire truck in front of my door and two other huge fire trucks blocking access to my block and, gasp, all the neighbors were out watching (except for the psycho who was busy rocking). And then, as if I wasn’t embarrassed enough, the fire squad came out of the fire truck and I gasped as I realized that their leader was a guy who used to be in grad school with me. I had vaguely heard through the grapevine that he had put his MA in anthropology to good use by becoming a fireman, but of course I had forgotten it till that moment. He immediately greeted me by my name (probably figured out I had put my MA in anthropology to good use by wasting the fire dept.’s time).

So all the squad trooped in my kitchen where the stove was still doing its strange flashing but the firemen seemed more impressed by what was on the stove as they all, to a man, commented on how big that pot of potatoes was.

They also asked me where the electrical plugs were. Ooops! I hadn’t even thought of them but I cleverly said I didn’t known, had just moved to that house (a lie!), did look for them (a lie!) but couldn’t find them. One fireman went out to the yard and did find them on the outside wall hidden by a bush –so my lies took on some desperately needed credibility. The youngest fireman took me aside and gave me a standard spiel that I shouldn’t be embarrassed because they would rather be called for a trivial thing than not be called for a big thing... I saw the squad to the door and all the neighbors minus the psycho were still there along with the fire trucks at each corner.

After they all left,I went back in and my youngest daughter (still in high school at the time) and myself contemplated the enormous pot of potatoes. Well, I couldn’t let my friend down, right? These potatoes had to be cooked! So my daughter and I each took the pot by a handle, crossed the yard, and knocked at the presumed psycho’s door. He did indeed let us finish boiling the potatoes on his stove, he was a bit strange but didn’t wield a knife (of course we were not foolhardy enough to ask if we could take a shower in his house....) . The potato salad was made in time for the wedding and the happy couple is still living happily ever after....

The landlord replaced the old white stove with another, even older, stove, this one in bright turquoise –but it didn’t do anything strange the rest of the time we lived there....


  1. The Boy once fat-fingered 911 on his cell phone when he was punching in codes for a conference call. As soon as he realized what he'd done, he hung up. Less than five minutes later a police car pulled up to the house, and a very large and burly policeman knocked on the door.

    When The Boy opened it, the the officer asked if he had called 911, was told the story and then asked, "Where is your wife, sir?"

    The Boy said I had left half an hour before and stood by while the officer walked through the entire house, yard and garage. He then phoned ME on my cell and asked where I was and if I was all right.

    Throughout the search, a million things went through The Boy's mind, including things like, "We don't even have our Green Cards yet!" and other trivia.

    He said that as the officer was leaving, he noticed that Louis the Big Orange Cat had left the back of the policeman's beautiful blue pants covered in fur. The Boy figured that was payback for the heart attack.

  2. Oh Messy, that's hilarious... good for your avenger kittycat!

  3. Excellent story, Kati. So, did you notice a spike in your electric bill that month, due to the Tesla show you were creating? :-)