by Benjamin Green
I’m making blueberry pancakes. To guide me, I have a homemade recipe on my computer screen that my wifelike girlfriend challenged me to try out. In an effort to pour a reasonably proportionate distribution of batter for each round of flapjacks I proudly create over a gas-burning stove, I’m leveraging a ladle. Like a bartender hooks a white linen apron to their belt loop so that it dangles right about where their hands hang so they can wipe ice cold water from their red fingertips or perhaps drape the linen over a beer bottle when cracking it open to avoid slicing through their palm like a German knife through avocado skin, I keep a dishtowel at the ready. My first batch turns out piss-poor and most of the batter ends up burnt and wadded along the rim of the smoldering pan I’m using, which I cannot assure you was not manufactured from the sort of Teflon that was banned at one point around 1984. I decide this is not a non-stick pan. This is a pan that clings to whatever is on it like those Velcro walls people sprint toward and belly-flop onto wearing a Velcro suit, each giddy jumper trying to gain more elevation than the last. I see a canister of Pam spray-on olive oil. I decide this will prevent my pancakes from being plastered to the pan and breaking like chunks of a concrete sidewalk under the pressure of a jackhammer and then running like smooth lava over my spatula when I go to flip them. I spray the pan with Pam. The pan is hot. Too hot. The pan begins to smoke. Knowing this will happen at some point, I instinctively reach for my trusty dishtowel that is tucked into the elastic rim of my microfiber Calvin Klein’s. I rush over to the nearby efficiency kitchen window to let a gust of cool Portland air in. As I stand back to swat at the plume cloud of sizzling, smoking pancake batter and direct it toward the open window instead of the beckoning smoke detector that will likely set off the building’s emergency sprinkler system and douse my neighbors’ units from their ceilings, my dishtowel connects with the long end of the ladle that I have now set down in the remaining batter. At this point, the scoop end of the ladle has settled to the depths of the bowl like a whale carcass that lands with a muted thud at the bottom of the ocean floor where it will be devoured overtime by translucent crabs and microorganisms in a weird ecosystem that I’ll never understand. With the trajectory of a catapult, most of the batter is sent flying from the only clay bowl in this miniature kitchen big enough to house the wheat flour concoction. It lands on the fridge. The wall. The ceiling. My hair. It hits my sweatpants and stretches like taffy parallel to the rally stripe that runs from my waistline to the cuff of my dark blue pajama-like pants that sweeps along the linoleum floor as I walk. My initial response feels something like defeat. My secondary response is a wave of anger that tries to seduce me into calming myself by punching the glass window and flinging my coffee mug into the plaster wall to watch either the mug or the wall crumble like those pillars at Sampson’s hands when his hair grew back and he took revenge on those who tricked, enslaved and blinded him.
Instead, I was warmed by a thought, which was: This must be what it’s like to have kids.
© Benjamin Green