Giant Camel, who has “marketable skills” and “a pleasant demeanor,” is at “work.” Supposedly “work” is a place where you perform tasks for money. Frankly it sounds too exotic for me, but he seems to enjoy it.
I decided that I would be a good little wife and make dinner, so I got a chicken out of the freezer to thaw this morning. I thought it was probably ready, so I decided to start cooking. And that’s where we went off the rails.
The chicken is sealed in plastic, like everything else in the world. I don’t want to use the household scissors to cut it for two reasons: one, salmonella, and two, Giant Camel. He is “artistic” and I can only guess what bloody craft scissors will inspire in a person who keeps bleached oxtail bones on the toaster oven “just in case” and who once said to me: “Oh, I was saving my hair from my comb in a Ziploc bag to make a little decorative bird’s nest for you, but I think I left the bag in the car when you gave it to charity. Oh, well.”
So I get a steak knife out of the dishwasher. This steak knife is special to me because one Easter, my grandmother sent me a box of household goods and two sweaters. On top was the steak knife, attached to a note: “I thought you could use this for something.” You know, something. Maybe steak, maybe not, you know how people are up there. Something. Now, I put silverware in the washer business-end-up, so the eating surface is more exposed and more likely to get clean. This means that occasionally you stick yourself with a knife, as I did this evening. I proceeded to yell, drop the knife so that it skittered into the back floor of the dishwasher, and then realize I wasn’t really hurt. No, I actually hurt myself leaning into the dishwasher to get the knife out.
So the knife and I are finally ready to free the chicken. So off we go. Do I pierce the plastic so that a little jet of chicken blood shoots out at me? Of course. Do I startle and drop the chicken into the colander? Of course. I eventually get the chicken out and go to extract the giblets. When they’re at work, they’re organs; when they’re shoved back in and left in a pile, they’re giblets. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could avoid getting to eighth base with the chicken and kind of gloosh the giblets out by shaking the bird, like with canned goods. Well, watery chicken blood sprayed further but only something I assume was a pancreas flopped out. I showed to my own pancreas as a cautionary tale – “if you stop working, you end up like this!” Of course, the remaining giblets were still frozen into the bird, so I had to reach in and peel them out with that two-fingered come-hither/g-spot motion.
Then, I do the Salmonella Dance, a feisty little Latin number involving turning the faucet on with my elbow, rinsing my hands, getting the bottle of detergent without really TOUCHING it, washing hands, washing bottle, washing everything. It carries through the entire chicken preparation process – get the cooking sherry, pour it on the bird, pour shake the pepper on, smooth the pepper across the bird, reach for the cooking sherry, remember you have salmonella literally all over your body, wash everything, forget if your hands are wet with water or bird juice, rinse, repeat.
So I get the damn thing herbed. I yell at Giant Camel – who is not here – for using all of the special seasoned salt I got for my birthday. This more than anything may be a sign of my coming crack-up. I got upset because we were almost out of the special seasoned salt. This is even worse than being the kind of person who gets seasoned salt for his birthday and is pleased. I add a little chug-a-lug of cooking sherry, then seal the bird into the pan with foil. I have to wedge it in because it’s a little round cake pan and tuck the foil around the bird like it’s bedtime. Then, of course, I have to do the Salmonella Dance.
I did preheat the oven. I did not check the racks before I preheated the oven. The bird won’t fit so I decide – 1540 on my GREs, ladies and gentlemen – I decide the best thing to do is fold up a tea towel, take the top rack, extract it, run into the bathroom while chanting “no whammies no whammies no whammies,” and run the shower on it cold. Then I can, you know, just set it aside. Did I note where the shower head was pointed? No. Did I turn it directly on my head? Yes.
I leave the now-cool oven rack in the bathroom and drip my way back into the kitchen to put the bird into the oven. I do a final round of the Salmonella Dance. I forget to move the giblet-heavy colander out of the way and get suds all over the pile of organs, nixing the potential for gravy. Having forgotten the tea towel in the bathroom, I dry my hands on my pants and then wonder if that’s “sanitary.” My boyfriend and I share underwear because medium Hanes boxer-briefs all look alike, but God forbid I get germs on my jeans.
I then proceed to tell thousands of strangers how goofy and Lucille Ball-like a cook I am – and I haven’t even started on the carrots! Join me next week, when I plan to somehow drown while trying to make baked fish and green beans.