Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 12-19-11
Raising boy children is exciting. Ask Maureen – she has five offspring of the male persuasion. Which means she has the dubious pleasure of living with six men (counting the sire of the clan). I mention this data because if one has only boy children, one’s family anecdotes tend to evolve differently than if one has only girls or if one has a mix of genders.
Maureen’s brood ranges in age from late teens down to beginning teen years. She refers to them as The Five Musketeers. All tend to be athletic, creative and ingenious. Which accounts for how the following story came to pass. When the temperature froze over the small pond on the back 40, hockey became the sport of the hour. Rousing ice-hockey clashes used up lots of testosterone. Then it came to pass that one of the “sticks” became unsatisfactory.
Hockey sticks, as you may or may not know, are J shaped with a blade for hooking a puck at the playing end. One side of the blade is flat, the rear side is curved. The boys decided they needed to modify said blade. They agreed it just wasn’t right. It needed, they decided, more “torque.” What to do? Hammering was out of the question. Trying to bend steel by hand didn’t work. Then the light bulb went on. How about heat? Get the blade hot enough and with a pair of pliers, bend it into a better attitude.
Into the kitchen they trooped and turned on a stove burner to high. (Note that Maureen, the Mom, was not in residence. She’d gone to town to grocery shop). The boys deposited the blade – still attached to the stick – onto the red-hot stove burner. One son held a pair of pliers at the ready. Another hung on to the stick-handle end. Another, using a fat wad of paper napkins (instead of a pot-holder), gingerly grasped the tip of the blade to hold it steady for the pliers wielder. He failed to notice that his substitute pot-holder pad of napkins was too close to the stove burner – until the wad caught fire. That’s the moment he yelped and abandoned his job.
(Have I mentioned that Hoot, the Collie dog, was also present? Hoot’s job – as he viewed it – meant being on hand and underfoot at all times). The kitchen developed a floating ash problem as bits of blazing napkin sailed up and up. Then, still flaming, they drifted down – and a few lit on Hoot. (Hair or fur burns easily when fire touches them).
Hoot dashed off ki-yi-ing. Aghast, the Musketeers tore after him out of the kitchen, down the hall and into the living room. With a mighty lunge, one son pounced and managed to smother the flames, nearly smothering Hoot in the process.
Meanwhile back in the kitchen, the hockey stick, with the hot blade, had fallen to the floor … the linoleum floor … the newly installed linoleum floor. The flying bits of paper napkin had landed hither and thither on window ledges, table top, chair seats. Most had stopped flaming – after they’d lit.
At more or less that moment, Maureen, the Mom, returned home. Five young men had a lot of explaining to do. They promised to replace the burnt blemish on the kitchen floor where the hot blade had rested. They promised to repaint the scorched spots on window sills and chairs. They promised to vacuum the living room rug although they couldn’t promise to replace the singed area where Hoot had had his flames put out.
Somewhat discouraged, the boys decided to give up hockey – at least for awhile.
Maureen is worried. The Five Musketeers are now training their saddle horses to become polo ponies. Maureen can only hope they won’t decide to use her stove as a forge – again.