Rick's Space: Karen’s Big Surprise

Shocked




After 25 years, it’s time for Karen and I to replace a lot of the stuff in our house, and we’ve come to realize that to be truly happy, we are someday going to go broke trying to bring things up to speed.

The electric stove is the latest, after finally recovering from a devastating disaster with the electric dishwasher. And, I can assure you, the fridge is banging and snorting like it’s close to checking out, too.

Actually, this is the second stove this week. One showed up last week with a flattop and mirror finish. You had to go through a ritualistic cleaning process every time you cooked. You needed a Zamboni to get the thing shiny again.

Regular readers know that on the rare occasions Karen cooks, the amount of edible material is pretty much evenly split between the pan, the stovetop, and the floor. She insisted we get a stove like the one we had, with coil tops. “I loved our gas stove!” she exclaimed.

Well no, it was electric, but I’m getting off point.

The two guys arrived from the appliance store and spent a half hour drilling. I have no idea what they were drilling, but eventually they came in with the stove. But when the guy plugged it in, sparks flew and he looked, briefly, like an X-Ray.

“It’s because your house is old,” he said after his wits came back to him.

This is the Hamptons. I grew up in Sag Harbor. Every house is old. There are houses that were built before electricity and they have functioning ovens now. My last house ran on whale oil, for chrissakes.

“I need to borrow a drill,” the bigger of the two guys said.

Oh boy.

Many of you know tools are not among my collectibles. I have marbles. I have comics. I have shells.

“And a magnetic drill bit.”

“Hon, do I have a decent drill bit in my underwear drawer?” I asked Karen.

“I seriously doubt it,” she replied.

As regular readers know, my toolbox is a bit lacking. I have a hammer that seems to be at opposites of a nail: the two never seem to strike each other. I have obsolete items like those Cablevision coaxial couplets from 20 years ago, the ones that screw in one way and screw out the opposite way.

I used to play with them like a Rubik’s cube while I watched my antenna-mounted TV.

I hemmmed and hawed. “We could probably jury rig some marbles,” I offered hopefully.

The two delivery guys weren’t laughing at my jokes. I was their first stop, and obviously no one clued them in about the trade traffic. They were already two hours late. “Maybe it’s in my Spider Man PJs?” I asked Karen.

Time was wasting. Karen had to go to work. I had to go to work. By this time, the entire back of the stove was off. The guys, all of us, were cursing, each in our own language. It made me realize that through all of life’s hardship, men of all races and creeds can find solace in the fact that we can insult our mothers with impunity.

Oh yeah, when we turned it on, the circuit breaker blew. That always inspires confidence.

It’s been two hours. The thing is still hot. “Can I cook on it?” Karen asked.

“You can’t cook on anything,” I answered honestly.

“I was going to surprise you!” What, with a house fire?

As far as Karen goes, she never likes anything new. “I smell gas,” she keeps saying.

When I was little, the kids were so skinny my mom actually let us hold hot dogs over the gas stove to pretend we were camping out just to get us to eat. Then she would have to clean the thing by hand. If Karen ever tries that, we’ll be cleaning Karen off the stovetop.

So, here’s the thing. Karen is planning on cooking me dinner one night next week. It’s a huge secret but I hear her on the phone, getting prepped by her friends, the ones that actually can cook.

“OK, two eggs . . .” I’ll hear her repeat, ear to phone.

“Do I crack them open?”

“Yes, we have flower.”

“Preheat the oven to 4000 degrees?”

That’s when my heart stood still. “I want to cook it on the open flame, just like when Rick was little. How do I make the stove top flame up?” she asked our neighbor. The woman moved yesterday.

She smelled gas.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com