Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pop Art

“The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.” ~Jackson Pollock

“Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.” ~David Gerrold

The microwave we had when we got married had a tendency to burn popcorn, so we have always popped “real” popcorn on the stove. We don’t even keep microwave popcorn in the house. There is definitely an art to stove popping, though – it’s not as easy as it looks.

Anyway, a babysitter came to stay with the kids not long ago. I don’t know whose idea it was to make popcorn – to be honest, I don’t really want to know. But at some point during the evening, some collection of individuals decided to make a snack. Apparently the babysitter did not know how to do this on the stove – and why should she? Microwave ovens preceded her into this world. So, she consulted the experts: our kids. I’ve seen my dad do it a bunch of times. Oooookay.

Before I go any further, I understand that many of you may never have made popcorn this way, either, so let me brief you for a moment. First, you pour about two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan. Add three or four kernels of popcorn and put on the lid. Turn on the burner to medium high and wait for the first kernel to pop. (That’s how you know the oil and the air in the pot is hot enough.) Then add about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels, hold the lid on tight with one hand, and commence shaking the pot back and forth across the burner until the popping stops. (The movement will prevent scorching.)

OK, so back to the story. The “experts” directed the babysitter to put in about a ½” layer of oil and cover the bottom of the pot with popcorn. I won’t insult your intelligence by drawing any comparisons with the proper procedures in the preceding paragraph. You can make the adequate deductions. And, no, they did not tell her to put on a lid.

*** Now, kids out there who may be reading, please don’t try this at home. Or at anyone else’s home for that matter. ***

A few minutes later the oil was hot, and the bottom of the pot was scorching, but the corn was not popping. Instead, the oil began splattering all over the counter, the microwave, the floor, and, I’m sure, numerous other places that I don’t even want to think about. The grocery list (right) lying next to the stove looked like a piece of abstract impressionism. Word is, at one point, she tried to throw a towel over the pot to stop the splatter.

Acknowledging a failed attempt, they gave up on stove popping, but the party was far from over, my friends! It gets better! They found a glass mixing bowl in the cabinet, put a cup or two of oil in the bottom, added lots of popcorn and … yep, you guessed it! Put it in the microwave!

Now at this point in the story I’m thinking, … well, never mind what I was thinking. Suffice to say, I had thoughts. But, you know what? Apparently it worked!! Yes, popcorn and oil were both flying around inside the microwave, but they actually succeeded in producing edible popcorn!

Some time later, as I pulled into the garage, I detected what smelled like burned popcorn before I ever opened my car door. As I got out and the smell was significantly stronger, I began to worry that the house might be on fire, but no. The kids were in bed and the babysitter was watching TV.

“I don’t know what that is, but I can smell it in the garage,” I said as kindly as I could. (I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt, you see.)

She proceeded to tell me (part of) the story. (The rest we would get out of the kids the next day.) As she talked, I went into the kitchen and looked around.

Then she said in her nicest voice, “Do you want me to clean it up?”

*** Now, kids, when you make a mess, you typically don’t need permission to clean it up. I just wanted to clarify that. ***

Ahhh, yes. So, all that to say, we’re just happy we didn’t have to have any contact with paramedics and firefighters that evening. The effects of adolescence on the human brain? Well, we can deal with that. :-)


  1. Okay - that's completely hysterical. And of course your retelling of the story just adds to the whole thing. But I must say that I was most struck by the fact that your grocery list looks better than mine even covered in oil. Mine is actually whatever scrap of paper I can find, written with whatever writing instrument I can find on my way out the door. And really it's the same list almost every time - (back to that boring eaters thing) - I should just laminate it and keep it in my wallet!

  2. Ha ha! Yes, we worked really hard to put that grocery list together. We just keep one on the counter and circle things as we run out of them. Then before we go to the store, we can kind of look through the pantry and refrigerator, and check it against "the list," and circle anything else we need.

    Now, if Kroger would start carrying 2 ltrs of Inspiration and Will Power by the pound, I'd be good to go! (See Half-baked post) :-)

  3. Okay, that is hilarious. And I was going to say the same thing Melissa said, that your grocery list is impressive. I try to find a notebook piece of paper that hasn't been colored on and hand write everything. Great idea! Glad no one was hurt in the popcorn incident!

  4. yes, I now belong to the blogosphere. Actually, I do have a blog on, but it is private and for North Campus parents. I don't know why I made it private, it just is.

    I was thinking about you this evening and was thinking how glad I am that we are friends. You are a tremendous blessing to me!

  5. Could I have the number of your babysitter? NOT!!! Sounds like a Candid Camera episode. Very funny!

    I keep a nice grocery list on a magnet on the fridge. It makes me feel better about going to the store.(Subscribing to the "prettier is better" theory, I guess) And, if any person in our house needs something, they know to write it on "THE LIST" or it will not be purchased.

  6. That is too funny! When I was in HS, the kids I was babysitting decided to make popcorn on their own--in a brown lunch bag in the microwave. When it caught fire and I was throwing the flaming bag out the door, they decided to help extinguish it with a hose. After completely soaking me, they then locked me out of the house. I had to climb in a window and drip my way across the crushed velvet carpet in the off limits living room.
    I never sat for them again, but I did get paid really well that night.

  7. Ooooh man - I got my daily laugh. Geeze Sharon - I didn't know you had such a talent for writing! You tell the story very well.

    I wouldn't call that babysitter again.

  8. Sharon, I just now actually read this post, but I must say I am quite amused. That ranks right up there with my friend who called to ask her mom if she needed to turn over the bag of rice once it was boiling! (Not that I can say much, but I can at least cook popcorn on the stove, the best way!)


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