St. Valentine's Day Mess-acare
I stare sleepily out the front window. Another night, sitting up, working on that whole breathing thing. I grope around for the iPhone & click it.
Somewhere in the brain fog, a klaxon horn methodically screams.
There is something...like a Darth Vader moment when Obi Wan gets on the Death Star.
What is...oh, nuts!
And the panic starts. It's hard to breathe as my mind runs blindly like a mid-management, mildly out-of-shape guy in mid-life crisis fleeing the bulls in Pamplona.
Heeet, heeet, fooooo. Heeet, heeet, foooo. There that's better.
Glad I went to those Lamaze classes. Calmer now, breathing better. Then a thought goes into labor. Ah. Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhh-right!
The moment of birth plops out a complete thought, nicely diapered with combed hair over a smiling face.
I'll make sweet rolls and decorate them for Valentine's Day!
And so was booking a luxury suite on the Titanic.
I get dressed, ninja-style, and sneak through the Dining/Living/Computer/Family Room to the kitchen where I semi-conciously nuke a leftover cup of the Elixir of Knowledge.
You ever notice that really early in the morning, a microwave sounds like a jet helicopter warming up that stops with a bell used to start horseraces?
I slam back a half'a'cup and estimate that the scalded skin in my mouth should grow back sometime next week.
Car keys in hand, I step out into the Wild. The cold wind hits me like a middle linebacker. I can't breathe. I lean toward the car. Heeeet, heeeet, foooooooo. Heeet, heeeeeet...
I claw my way into the minivan and sit wheezing within my womb from Detroit. 35 minutes later I stumble back through the front door armed with a small plastic bag.
I nuke another cup of the Elixir. As the helicopter preps for takeoff, I peel the wrapper off of a tube of Martha Stewart's best easy-bake cinnamon rolls. I wait for the pop that pulls apart the tube. Nothing...just the roar of the microwave taking off.
Huh. I smack the tube on the counter edge just as the bell on the microwave starts the feature at the Downs.
And therrrrrrrrrrrrre off! The tube in my hand explodes open, shooting a cinnamon blob out its side like a Pillsbury Doughboy cesarean. I peel the blob out of the sink and discover it's twins.
I plop the twins into the 9" butter-greased pie pan and try to get their siblings to come out of the tube. They don't wanna.
Peeling, probing, and pulling finally gets Martha' kids into the light of day. All but two come out as Siamese Quintuplets, conjoined at their centers. During the separation process, I end up with 2 handfuls of unwrapped, knotted-up cinnamon rolls. I untangle the dough strips, kinda re-roll 'em, and stick 'em in the pan.
Looks like I'm baking piles of really thick, wide shoelaces.
Well, love covers a multitude of ills.
And so does frosting.
Into the oven goes the shoelace piles. Oh yeah. I should turn the oven on. It should be at.........
I dig through the garbage for the wrapper. 400. Right, 400.
I take the shoestrings out of the oven and wait for 400. I wander out to the Dining Room and fire up the laptop which turns it into the Computer Room.
Huh. I google a windchill calculator.
20 mph wind.
The words of the Penguins of Madagascar ring in my ears.
"Well. This sucks."
A ding from the kitchen tells me at least it's warm in the oven. I set the pan on the grate.
"Hello, Mr. 400 Degree Oven. Here are some of Martha's kids. You guys play nice, now."
"Who ya talkin' to, Dad?"
I glance up to see TechnoBoy and a bad case of bedhead looking at me.
"Nothin'. Nobody. Definitely not the oven. Nothing here. Move along. Move along."
TechnoBoy turns, shaking his head before disappearing into the Reading Room.
15 minutes later, another ding, and the pan now holds browned piles of shoelances.
Okay. Frosting. Lotsa frosting.
I pull the foil safety top of the Duncan Hines frosting tin which is now made out of plastic. I spread globs of butter cream frosting across the crispy topography. Butter crème - it sounds like it's good for burns, doesn't it?
But these frosted mounds look, unfortunately, like all the other cinnamon rolls I've attempted. No pizzazz. No shock value. No Valetine-ese.
What's this? There's something stuck at the bottom of Martha's tube. A baggie full of white frosting. I stare at it as I sip the Elixir.
And the Elixir does its work.
Sure. That'll work. That'll look Valentine-ese. I squeeze most of the frosting into a small plastic bowl and the remainder onto the counter.
I rummage through the cabinet over the stove. I need The Box.
The Box is the baking version of The Junk Drawer. It contains all those weird baking things. The glitter toppings. The guava-persimmon flavoring syrup. And the food colorings. Specifically, the RED food coloring.
Back to the little plastic bowl of frosting.
I cautiously tip the bottle. Nothing. I keep tipping. And I'm tipping. And it's not dropping. I achieve full vertical dispensing and...nothing. Huh.
I put a little bit of tap water into the bottle, recap it, and shake. And my second attempt at coloring frosting visits the other end of the spectrum. I tip it too far, dumping the entire contents into the bowl. Ohhhh.
It looks like a Quentin Tarantino movie trailer. Kill Bill 3 in a bowl. That's reeeeeeeally red.
Arterial red. Definitely a good "heart" color. And so I take a spoon, dip it in the bowl, and try to make a heart shape in the butter cream frosting covering the landscape of shoelaces.
Uh. Oh. C'mon, c'mon. There. Oh.
There are now reddish-pink smudges adorning the rolls. Not so much heart shapes as maybe a sporadic nosebleed. I need to fill in the heart areas better.
I grab the little plastic bowl and tip it over the first heart smudge. No, I did not learn a thing from the food coloring episode and, yes, history does repeat itself.
It looks like a family of mice got sucked into a snowblower.
I put The Box back and, lo and behold, there are some plastic Valentine hearts on sticks.
I stick them into the bumps of frosting in the pan.
Now it looks like a crime scene with the police investigating the mouse family's demise.
I go back to bed, a little bummed, a little discouraged. A couple hours later I wander into the kitchen. Half the rolls are gone, the slightly frosted plastic hearts on sticks lying on the table.
I hear the front door opening and poke my head around the corner. TechnoBoy is on his way out. He smiles as he pulls the door shut.
"Thanks for the Valentine rolls, Dad!"
"You bet, bud. Happy Valentine's Day."
I head for the Reading Room and pass The Wife bringing a small plate back out to the kitchen. It holds spots of red and white frosting and a couple of little plastic hearts on sticks. She smiles.
"Happy Valentine's Day."
Yeah. I quietly close the door to the Reading Room.