“I’ll get the movie streaming and you make the popcorn,” Layce said.
“Sure,” I said. I’d never actually made microwave popcorn before but I’m all about new experiences. My first mistake was not reading the directions. I mean I’d watched Emma make popcorn. If a kid could do it, a grown-up with more skills shouldn’t have a problem.
I put the bag in the microwave. I pondered how it was that people could screw up popcorn. In every office environment there was always the idiot who’d burn the popcorn and stink up the whole break room.
“How come I don’t hear the popcorn popping?” Layce said, as we both studied the television screen where Netflix refused to load saying we didn’t have an internet connection.
“It’s not done,” I replied. Layce pressed buttons on the remote. Still no luck. “Get Emma, she’ll fix it,” I suggested.
The microwave beeped and I pulled out a flat bag of popcorn. What the hell? There was a slightly acrid smell. “I think we have a defective bag of popcorn here.”
Layce handed Emma the remote and came over to check out the defective bag of popcorn. “What did you do?”
“I put it in the microwave for three minutes,” I said.
“Did you turn the turbo-power down?”
“What???” The microwave had blast off capabilities? Who knew?
“Yes, turn it down, here just press this button and take it down.”
Layce handed me another bag of popcorn. I put it in the microwave and turned the turbo-power down to fifty percent. I still didn’t understand why the popcorn didn’t pop because the microwave zapped it too much. Hot is hot. Popcorn should pop when it’s hot. I didn’t care what anyone said. The bag was obviously defective. Orville Redenbacher probably had a disgruntled employee who wanted to mess with an unsuspecting popcorn consumer and put in reject kernels.
“How’s it going over there?” Layce said.
“Got it all under control,” I said, peering into the microwave—nothing appeared to be happening. The microwave dinged. The bag was still flat. “I think we’ve got another bag of defective popcorn over here.” The disgruntled employee must have been really pissed off. He’d gotten the whole box.
Layce returned to the kitchen. “What did you do?”
“Just what you said. I turned the turbo power thing down,” I said defensively.
“Down to what?”
“It needs to be a seventy-five.”
“Well, why didn’t you just say that?” I replied peevishly. This popcorn thing was getting annoying.
“At least you didn’t burn it this time.”
She put the bag back in, amped up the turbo on the microwave and set it for three minutes. It turned out perfect. “I did it!” I called out. I was ecstatic. Evidently the whole batch wasn’t defective.
“Impressive,” Layce said. She and Emma were still messing with the internet problem.
Confidently, I put in my bag of sea salt and caramel popcorn, set it for three and a half minutes just like the package said. I figured since it was a different kind of popcorn maybe I should read the instructions. They were evidently there for a reason.
Since I had three and a half minutes I went to the check out the television problem.
“Did you ever press play?” Emma asked. She glanced at her mother.
“No, why would I? It said we didn’t have a connection so why would I press play? What was there to play?” Layce said defensively.
Emma pressed play and the movie came up. “Geez, mom.”
I rolled my eyes. “Takes a kid to figure it out,” I muttered.
“What’s that smell?” Emma said. She’d missed the early debacle.
Layce looked at me. “What have you done?”
“Nothing. I followed the directions.”
We all ran to the kitchen. I opened the microwave and a huge cloud of acrid, burnt, nose-burning smoke poured out. The smoke alarm went off. Layce grabbed the bag, and flung it on the counter. (See attached photo. This was after it had cooled down and we’d de-smoked the house.)
Emma ran to the back door and opened it. Layce swatted at the smoke alarm with a broom until it came crashing down, made one last peep and stopped.
I whipped out dishcloths and wet them in sink as smoke continued to pour out of the microwave. “Here, put these on,” I said, wrapping mine around my face so I looked like an old western bank robber.
“Why?” Layce said.
Emma didn’t hesitate. She put hers on. “Smoke inhalation. You can die from it. I saw it on iFunny.”
I snatched the bag off the counter and got on the ground, army-crawling my way to the back door.
“What is she doing?” Layce asked Emma.
“Smoke rises, we better get down.”
“I am not crawling around on the floor,” Layce said. She opened the front door and got the fan out of Emma’s room.
Through the cloud of smoke, Layce said, “You are never, ever allowed to make popcorn. Is that understood?”
“Who knew such a thing was possible? I’m telling you it’s defective popcorn,” I replied standing out on the back porch with Bear. She was no dummy. The house stunk bad. Emma joined us.
“No, the person making the popcorn is defective.” Layce said.
I will never look at another packet of microwave popcorn without trepidation and a healthy respect for its capabilities. Who needs tear gas when there’s popcorn for making terrorists evacuate a building?
“Maybe we should go out to a movie,” I suggested.
“I’ll get my coat,” Emma said.
MAKING THE WORLD A HAPPIER PLACE—ONE BOOK AT A TIME!