by Craig Towsley
A dried paste of flour and water covered the kitchen walls. The dough had exploded during the night. Maybe she was right when she said the yeast went bad.
Maybe I shouldn’t have let it sit out all night to rise.
Well, you live and you learn and I have learned it is better to just buy the bread from the grocery store.
The second lesson is, I don’t have any baking skills.
This worries me. No baking skills, no sewing skills, no neat little tricks to make life easier around the house. Basically I have no domestic knowledge. The one thing that really bothers me is that I can’t darn my socks. Seems a waste to throw out something just because there’s a hole. And you can’t wear them either. Your skin rubs against the inside of your boot and you get blisters.
I have drawers full of socks with holes in the heels, toes and ankles too. These socks are the things I think about most each day. If I were a more intelligent or philosophical man, I could probably describe this as metaphor for something in my life, but I was never very good at figuring out what something means, or why it happens or anything. Like I said, I have very limited practical information.
Besides the drawers of holey socks, I also have a shelf of unread books.
I might have read the first few pages of most of them, and then just tossed them aside. I’m not a big reader, but every so often I make my mind up to start reading more. I’ll spend time in a few bookstores looking for something interesting, get home, pour myself a coffee, sit down, open the book, flip through the pages and give up. Just drop the book to the table and stare out the window, or up at the ceiling or just at nothing.
When I’m goaded into doing a little tidying up later on, I’ll pick up the book and throw it on the shelf, and maybe I’ll feel a little guilty. Like I’m not living up to my potential or something.
I used to have people over and they would always ask me about a book on my shelf and I would try to make something up, like what I thought of one character or idea, but I would get caught in my lies so I just stopped inviting people over.
But we started talking about the bread right?
The wife came home one day after reading some article while getting her hair done up or down or however she calls at the salon. She comes in screaming about how the bread we buy in store has nothing worthwhile in it, just empty something or something and how it can even lead to getting cancer.
Every few weeks she gets all riled up about the newest way you might get cancer. I guess I understand why, she lost both parents to the disease, so she’s always got some plan to save us from it. Like I said this time it was bread.
Well, I told her I used to help my mother make bread when I was a kid all the time, and I could whip up a few loaves no problem. Of course I was lying. But really, it was more like I was lying to myself than to her. I was just trying to not sound so completely useless, like tits on a bull.
But that’s all I am; big, floppy, veiny, bull tits.
I was in denial about this until I started to try to make the bread. I found all the ingredients in the back of the cupboard. I can’t say how long any of it was there. I don’t know if we bought flour or if it just came with the house.
I was pouring the yeast into the water when the wife starts up with her “you know” speech. This is the most annoying of all her speeches. Her little tirades might be useful if she actually knew what she was talking about, but she never does, so her advice is always little bits of different things stitched together in a way that seems to make sense to her.
Also, once she’s in her “you know” stance whatever she says suddenly becomes the word of God and beware asking any questions that might point to a flaw or problem. These are met with an arched eyebrow or a howling scream, depending on how offensive your question was.
She was going on about how yeast was only good for a short time and then it dies.
I’m pretty sure yeast is just some kind of grain or something and a packaged grain can’t die, so I just tuned her out and continued with my mixing.
I was working the dough, what do you call it, kneading? Yeah, I was kneading the dough and started thinking to myself, hell, I’m not doing so bad at this. It feels like bread dough and looks like it. Shit, maybe I’m not such a fuck–up after all.
The recipe said you should leave your dough to rise, so that’s what I did. Then I forgot about it.
They had a documentary on WWII on that history channel and I consider myself a big war buff so I settled in and started watching. I had a few beers I guess, and I fell asleep.
I woke up to a huge bang and then the shrill howls of a terrified woman half-asleep. I grumbled an eye open to see her standing in the kitchen in her night-gown, screaming bloody murder. You might think I would have jumped up and ran to see what happened, but then you wouldn’t know me very well.
I tried to pretend I was still asleep when she came in and dug her talons into my shoulders and started shaking me. She was inches from my face, I could taste her breath.
I finally got up and walked over to the kitchen. It was covered in dough. That thing exploded like someone stuck some dynamite in it. Some even traveled to the bathroom. I just shook my head and waddled down the hallway to the bedroom. I said it was late and I would clean it all in the morning, let’s go to bed.