At my new job, there’s some no-microwave rule on our floor, has something to do with safety, I don’t know. Everyone bitches about it on the daily, because this is a new thing for them and they’re not used to it. The closest microwave is in the kitchen one floor up and every day I hear things like, “Now I have to walk around two floors with cups of hot soup, like THAT’S not a safety hazard!” Last night, one of the analysts bitched for fifteen minutes straight about wanting popcorn but hated having to go upstairs to pop it. She eventually gave in, but when she came back to her office with the popped bag, she called one of her friends on the phone to bitch about it some more.
I thought about this for awhile, this microwave debacle, and then had a flashback to my job at the Tina&Eleanore Company and realized that maybe it’s a good idea there’s an entire floor separating me from the microwave.
The Burnt Popcorn Situation
March 16th, 2007
Henry bought me snack-sized bags of popcorn to fall back on in case I get post-dinner cravings at work. One night last week, I made one and as I returned to my desk, Eleanore flung off her headphones and, with a mouthful of disgust, moaned, “You know I love popcorn. I damn near eat it here every night. Now someone went and burnt a bag! Ain’t nothing smell worse than burnt popcorn.”
There was fire in her eyes.
I held my bag up with two fingers and gave it a playful jiggle.
“It was me, Eleanore.” I added a bashful giggle just to be safe.
“Girl! Imma chop you!”
And we laughed together.
Monday night, I managed to pop a bag to perfection. Plain. It tasted plain and stupid.
When I prepared a bag last night, I swear I only left it in there for two minutes, taking into account the smaller snack-sized bag. And I know I should have been panting and pacing in front of the microwave like a good obedient snacker, perking my ears for the two second silence between kernel pops, but I was too distracted with graffiti-ing one of those “GUYS you’re not following the RULES!!!” signs on the refrigerator.
I burnt this bag almost entirely to a crisp. Instead of pitching it right there in an effort to contain the wrong smell into one room, I trekked back to my desk, pulling the top apart on my way and leaving a trail of residual burnt stench in my wake.
Eleanore was waiting with her arms crossed.
“Girl! You done went and did it again! What am I gonna do witchu?” (When I’m not incinerating popcorn, she calls me “babe.”)
I was going to eat around the burnt part, which was the entire center. It was a solid brick of charred destruction, like I tried to cook it in a fireplace. I must have looked real triflin’ to Eleanore because she gave me the rest of her regular sized bag of Act II.
I know it was a kind gesture, one that I accepted graciously I might add, but my popcorn was Pop Secret. And I kind of like it when it’s burnt. At least around the edges. So my hand, clutched sadly around my dejected burn victim, wavered above the garbage can and I took a few seconds to assess the situation. I kept my bag. I balled it up and shoved it in my purse so I could enjoy it in the privacy of my home, where burnt popcorn haters wouldn’t flock around and taunt me with their popcorn slurs.
“Next time you want popcorn, just give the bag to me and let me do it,” Eleanore said, giving the knife one last wrench.
On my way home, I called one of my friends and confided in her about my filthy popcorn secret, and she went off on me like I had just shat on her Bible. She used to manage a movie theater and she gets easily up-in-arms over any related matter. She made me feel embarrassed and self-conscious about my popcorn preference. I could probably fuck a dead body with less guilt.
I came home and left my scorched goods on the kitchen counter, where I would come back for it the next day. Maybe nibble a handful along with my morning coffee. Who knows?
Except that this morning, when I entered the kitchen to reclaim my prize, it was no longer on the counter.
It was in the garbage.
I called Henry. I think he was anticipating it, because his argument of “The whole kitchen stinks now!” rolled a little defensively off his squirming tongue.
Et tu, Henry? You mother fucker.