When I was eight, my mother banned me from the kitchen.
There were a few episodes of burned pots (hot chocolate that only made it to the stage where you put the milk in the pot and the pot on the stove, then get caught up in the latest episode of GI Joe, and then suddenly, the kitchen is full of smoke), and one episode of a recipe for green bread from some kid's TV cooking show (which also ended in a kitchen full of smoke).
Unfortunately, such a ban is only enforceable if you're actually there to enforce it, so I still did kitchen-related activities on the sly.
One day, I decided to make hot chocolate with marshmallows. Remembering the last burned pot, I stood over the stove, listening to GI Joe instead of watching it, and made a perfect pot of heated milk.
Since we'd had mashed potatoes the night before, the electric hand mixer was sitting on the counter, with the drying beaters on the tea towel by the sink. I got a bright idea - instead of stirring the hot chocolate mix into the hot milk with a spoon (how old-fashioned!) I'd use the mixer to make it really fluffy!
Remember I was eight, so the idea made perfect sense to me.
So I plug the mixer into the wall, put the beaters in the pot, and very carefully use the mixer to make frothy hot chocolate. Yay me, right?
I finish watching GI Joe, then Transformers, and half of the Smurfs before I remember that I'd better have everything cleaned up before Mom comes home. So I go to the kitchen, wash the pot, wipe down the stove, and try to eject the beaters from the mixer.
I'm an eight-year-old city kid - I have hand strength approximately equaling that of wet bread. So I push on the button, and push, and push, but nothing happens. I try with both thumbs, and still nothing happens.
Oh crap. Now Mom's going to come home, and the beaters are going to be covered with hot chocolate, and she's going to know I used the stove, and I'm going to get in some real trouble!
Again, I'm eight. I have the perfect solution!
I fill up the sink with soapy water, and with the mixer plugged in, I climb up on the stool I use when mom and I are doing dishes, and I drop the beaters into the sink and turn them on.
All is well so far - it's making a sink full of foamy bubbles, and when I pull the mixer out of the water, I see that they're sparkling clean! I'm awesome! I'm She-Ra! I can figure anything out!
I hop down from the stool and face my second dilemma - I need to dry the beaters. I grab a tea towel and start dabbing at the beaters - remember, that thing is still plugged in. Suddenly, I DO remember that the thing is still plugged in, and I get the bright idea that the best way to dry them is to put the tea towel into the beaters and turn it on, then pull the towel out the other side.
I'm not entirely stupid - I realize that there's a risk to this endeavor, but I figure that I am cool enough to take the risk.
With the mixer still plugged in, I gently tuck a corner of the tea towel into the beaters, and hit the power button, pulling my hand away from the towel quickly.
The beaters whir to life, but the towel falls to the ground - I let go too early.
I pick up the towel and tuck the corner in again, and hit the power button, once again pulling my hand away from the towel. Once again, the towel falls to the ground.
Now I'm kinda mad. Why isn't my brilliant plan working? How will I ever earn a spot on the Joe Team if I can't figure out how to dry these beaters?
I'm determined that it's going to work this time. I tuck the tea towel in, hit the power and THEN try to let go.
Those beaters? They move FAST.
That tea towel? It's laying on the ground.
My fingers? All four are woven through both beaters, with part of my palm wedged in between the two and my thumb sticking out.
Somehow I have the presence of mind to take three big steps backwards, pulling the plug out of the wall, but that doesn't solve the problem.
EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!!
OMG OMG OMG, I need to get this thing off of me! But wait - remember my weak fingers - if I couldn't eject the beaters with both hands, then trying it with my left hand by itself certainly isn't going to work.
As I dance around the kitchen, I start shrieking in panic, (because even though the pain hasn't really set in yet, I'm very aware of the fact that it soon will).
I dance around for a few more seconds, then realize fully that no matter what I do, I will not get this mixer off by myself. Waiting for my mom to come home is not an option - she might leave me in the mixer to punish me for using the stove (hey, that's what I THOUGHT, not what my mom would actually have DONE).
I suddenly remember the next door neighbor, Christine. She has a son about my age, and we walked home from school together. She waved at me from the doorway when her boy got home, so I know she's there. Without stopping for shoes, I bolt for the door, the mixer's power cord dragging along behind me like a tail.
Now, for just a second, imagine you're Christine. You're making dinner and suddenly the doorbell rings. You wipe your hands and start down the stairs to answer it, and when you get halfway down the stairs, you hear this strange, inhuman whimpering. When you throw open the door, you're confronted by the sight of the strange kid from next door IN HER UNDERPANTS with an electric mixer attached to her hand. Oh, did I forget to mention the underpants? Yeah, the last time I got busted for using the stove, it was because I got hot chocolate mix on my pants and my Mom saw it. So in order to enhance my stealth, I'd taken off my pants before I started cooking.
I can only remember my childhood in snatches and bits, and some of my memories are foggy. That said, the memory of Christine's face as she opened her door and took in my half-naked, finger-tangled glory will stay with me forever.
She stared at me for about ten long seconds, then slammed the door in my face, laughed hysterically for about five more seconds, then opened the door again, face completely composed. She grabbed the mixer and tried to eject the beaters, but no surprise, since the things aren't easy to get out in the first place, the process is no easier when there's a bunch of flesh wedged between the beaters. So she grabbed her kid, bundled both of us in the station wagon, and took me to the ER.
It's anticlimactic, but in the end, nothing was broken except my spirit, since EVERYONE laughed at me - the nurse at admitting, the ER nurses, the doctors, my parents. I wonder if it would have been as funny if I'd been wearing pants.
Labels: awkward moments, childhood