Monday, January 31, 2011

Burnt Toast & Birthdays

Something wasn’t quite right. Wisps of foggy thoughts nagged at the back of my mind, urging me to remember what was amiss.

My nostrils flared suddenly at a singed smell and I dashed from my computer desk to the kitchen waving napkins at the hazy air, yanking the cord from the outlet and threw open a window hoping to avert setting off the smoke alarm. Grey smoke curls poured from the shiny chrome toaster. Blackened toast emerged from torturing metal slots. It was ruined. I was too late.

The screeching, nails-on-a-black-board, skin crawling wail of the smoke detector seared my ears as the smoke singed my nose. I couldn’t grab a chair quickly enough to snatch the battery from the offended plastic hanging superiorly from its ceiling throne, secured there specifically to blast me with ear piercing criticism when I screwed up in the kitchen.

Blissful silence ensued. The smoke slowly dissipated and I sank down to sit on the chair as realization dawned on me.

I’d done it again. I’d forgotten one of my best friend’s birthdays.

You would think that after knowing someone for four years, you wouldn’t forget which day they celebrate their birth. It’s not as though that day changes from year to year the way many federal holidays do.

In all fairness, I hadn’t actually forgotten it. About four days earlier I noted on the calendar the impending date and mentally configured I had time to deal with it accordingly. Revealing in being early for once, I threw the thought to the back of my mind and the reminder became lost somewhere in the clutter in my head.

It’s a bit like the lowest settings on a toaster. The “five seconds” setting is completely ineffectual at doing anything to the toast. You’d have to press the lever down ten times just to make the bread feel warm. Just moments before I’d pushed the toast down for a second time since it was too soon.

After the room temperature bread popped up the second time, I threw the heat setting lever to somewhere in the middle and went back to my home office right next to the kitchen.

That was my mistake. Instead of acting on that first alert, I figured I had plenty of time to take care of birthday plans, and the toast would need a while longer. I should have used the early reminder as my signal to monitor the situation until it was finished to perfection.

A little less impatience and a little more planning and I could have avoided both uncomfortable situations. Now instead of savoring golden brown buttery sourdough bread, I was going to have to stomach a thick slice of humble pie.

Punctuality hasn’t always been my strong suit. Without calendars, alarms and check lists I’m lost. I am getting much better though. And fortunately, the repercussions for my negligence this time were just decimated bread and seeking the forgiveness of a very compassionate friend. I could try again.

I slipped another slice of bread into the toaster slot, adjusted the setting and stayed near the counter while writing the birthday reminder on next years calendar and adding a date alert to my phone. I would get it right this time by doing what I should have done the first time and kept a better eye on things. Then I summed up my courage and made what will hopefully be one fewer belated phone calls.

Then I restored order to my kitchen and inserted the battery back into the smoke alarm. With persistence, not luck, I wouldn’t be deafened by this shrieking contraption again.

I would have to be more conscientious, but it certainly beats a dry charcoal shingle for toast and an apology laced birthday card.

1 comment:

Warren Ross said...

Well played. You turned burnt toast into soul food!