You know that saying that goes, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t following me”? Well, I’d like to present the corollary, at least in how it refers to me. That would be, “Just because seemingly random, messy situations happen to me doesn’t mean that the universe isn’t laughing its ass off. At my expense.” To wit:
Back in March of 2020 (shudder!) when we were all trying to navigate this new system of getting groceries (and getting by) without endangering ourselves, I tried the ordering online method, placing a big order that I hoped would last us two or three weeks (because remember when everyone said it would be over by then?). Including lots of items for the freezer. The order was delivered on time, the food was safely unpacked and put away, and I let out a sigh of relief that at least that one hurdle had been crossed for the time being. The universe, obviously regarding me as an appropriate plaything, was having none of it.
Less than 24 hours later, our 21-year-old refrigerator – and most of the perishables in it – gave out. Hilarity (at the obvious ridiculousness of the situation) and mayhem (what to do now?) ensued. Because of the pandemic, we didn’t want a refrigerator delivered and installed; because we like to eat more than pasta, canned goods, and cereal, we needed a solution. And Midge the Mini Fridge was it. Small enough to be delivered to our front door and for us to bring inside, surprisingly big enough to hold a decent amount of refrigerated items (and a few frozen meals), and adorable enough to warrant a name, Midge was our saving grace. We and Midge soldiered on for the next few months, until we felt safe enough having a full-size refrigerator brought in and the old one taken away. But Midge remains — unplugged and stored in a closet — perhaps for future happier use.
Now, 20 months later, Thanksgiving Eve is here and the universe is cracking itself up again. As of yesterday, I had all the ingredients for our small but food-filled fest ready to go – turkey breast, check; stuffing stuff, check; fresh cranberries for sauce, yes, yes, yes (I love that one!); pumpkin pie (from the bakery for a change), yes indeed. With my mother-in-law on board for making her sweet potato casserole, I was all set. Or so I thought.
Because I was raised in an environment where food equals love and lots of food equals lots of love – but don’t eat too much or you’ll risk gaining weight (thanks for the conflicting messages) – I couldn’t help but try another cake recipe for the celebration. So I mixed and measured, stirred and sifted, preheated and prepared, and into the oven it went for the recommended 50 minutes. Sort of. At 50 minutes it didn’t look done. At 60 minutes it hadn’t progressed – half-risen and not at all golden brown. (“That’s strange,” I thought naively). At 90 minutes nothing had changed – except, as it was becoming painfully clear, for the status of the oven. Uh-oh.
It appears that a heating coil had gone kaput. As in goodbye. So long. Farewell. And lots of luck with Thanksgiving. That sound I heard above the roaring in my ears and my own choice language was that of the universe chuckling.
The good news? Turkey duties have now moved to B.’s mom’s oven. I’ve still got the sides. Our feast is indeed moveable and will be enjoyed thoroughly albeit differently.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over this era (dating from fridge meltdown to oven cooldown), it’s that you’ve gotta laugh at the things you can laugh at and try to find the humor in the incredibly annoying moments where possible. With all the things we can’t find the funny in, finding it wherever we can has never been more essential for getting by.
So here’s to all we’re thankful for – the people at our table and the friends just a phone call away. Here’s to Thanksgiving in all its perfectly imperfect variations. And here’s to the universe laughing with us. Call it nonsense and sensibility.
©2021 Claudia Grossman