Years ago – when I was old enough to know better, but still prone to stupid mistakes – my parents left me at home with a friend while they participated in a progressive dinner. They were hosting the main course, so they’d be back eventually, and my only instructions were not to touch the pot roast that was cooking upstairs.
Cara and I were downstairs watching a movie when we got hungry and decided to make ramen. To this day, I’m not sure why I didn’t just pause the movie, go upstairs, and make the soup. But then again, hindsight is 20/20.
I decided to boil water in the downstairs microwave, which was situated so that I could still see the TV.
The next thing I knew there was a fire in the microwave.
You see, the “still prone to stupid mistakes” part of me didn’t think about the fact that I had used a metal pot – with a plastic handle – to boil the water.
It was the handle that caught on fire and was slowly burning up, blackening the formerly white microwave and stinking up the entire downstairs.
I grabbed the first thing I could find – a ladle – and tried to fill it up with water to toss on the flames. Cara, the calmer of the two of us, pointed out that the bowl (next to the ladle) would hold more water.
We safely extinguished the fire and nervously waited for my parents to get home. Even if I could have hidden the microwave, there was no hiding the smell.
I remember wondering just how mad my parents would be, and what they’d say when they walked through the door.
First words from Mama:
“Whatever happened, that better not be the pot roast.“
I thought there’d be more, but they had company coming, so my microwave-shenanigans weren’t fully addressed that night.
Fast forward a few weeks to Christmas morning, opening our stockings.
My mom has always been an expert stocking stuffer. She manages to find the perfect mix of fun doodads and incredibly useful things that you didn’t know you needed until you open them. But always smaller, lighter things (and each individually wrapped, to make it more fun).
My stocking that year, however, was fully weighed down in the toe and as I made my way through the rest I was both excited and curious.
The last thing I pulled out – the heavy thing – was probably about seven inches tall and cylindrical. And I couldn’t even begin to guess as to what it was.
I certainly wasn’t expecting the huge can of heavy duty microwave cleaner. Though maybe I should have been.
I imagine that my mom must have been smirking as I pulled off the wrapping, but I don’t remember that for a fact.
I do know that, given the damage I did to the microwave, and the smell that permeated the house for at least a week, I was lucky that the cleaner wasn’t the only thing in my stocking that year.
And no, I haven’t boiled water in the microwave since.