baked corn-on-the-cob. I was tired. Brutally exhausted from cramming the night before for a Wines and Foods of the World exam (I was majoring in travel careers at the time with high hopes of landing an airline job).
I buttered up the first ear of raw corn, sprinkled it with cayenne pepper, and tore off a sheet of aluminum foil. It was then that I remembered the last time I had made corn, how I had blistered my fingers trying to insert those plastic corn holders, the ones that look like miniature cobs, into a steaming hot ear. The blisters were so bad that I was unable to play the piano for two weeks. No, I would not let that happen again.
After rummaging through the utensil drawer, I found the plastic holders. I needed eight but could only find seven. So one ear would only have one holder, which would have to suffice. In a premeditated act of near brilliance, I proceeded to plug the holders into their respective ears. I then securely wrapped each cob in foil and placed the four shiny subjects into my 400-degree, preheated oven.
My date, whom I later married, arrived hungry after a soccer game. He sat down by me on the couch and showed me his newest injuries. His back was sore, so I was about to offer a massage when he perked up his head, deer-like, and said he smelled smoke. I smelled it too--a toxic smoke, like burning rubber. That's when the black billowing puffs appeared out of the four corners of the oven.
With the swiftness of an L. A. firefighter, I dashed to the oven and opened it. I had recently learned in my air-safety class all the ways to extinguish various types of fires, but when I saw the black smoke barraging the kitchen, I couldn't conclude which type of extinguisher was designed to put out plastic corn holders. Seeing there was no actual fire, I turned off the oven, turned on the kitchen fan, opened the windows and doors, then peered inside at the charred remains. My date, whom I later married, remained nonplussed.
After the smoke cleared, I assessed the damage. Oozing out of each foil-wrapped ear were globs of yellowish-black melted plastic. Hopeful that the actual corn had survived, I grabbed--bare-handed--one of the cobs, reburning the same fingers from the last corn-cooking catastrophe. Remembering that my date, whom I later married, didn't like women who swore, I took a deep breath, looked at him from across the kitchen, and said, "Shucks!"
Perhaps due to the psychological ramifications of this disaster, what I don't remember now is what we actually ate that night. Or if we eat at all.