I've been watching Downton Abbey so let me put this in terms I'll understand: the Baroness has been traveling and left the Downstairs Staff unsupervised. Ordinarily supervision would have fallen to the Lady in Waiting, but the Lady got tired of waiting and allowed that the Downstairs Staff could feed, clothe and husband each other (this is an English series so you'll have to read that benignly).
And so it fell to Mac McKatt and me to amuse ourselves with nothing but the television, the refrigerator and each other. Sure, there's other stuff around but you get two guys doing a cross-species slumber party and it really boils down to food, the remote and whose feet smell the worst.
We'd just gotten chased off A&E by something called the "Duck Dynasty" which, in less than five minutes, demonstrated how unlikely it is that I'll ever be able to sell a television series. On the other hand, if they'll buy "Duck Dynasty" they'll likely buy anything and in this instance I have to observe that "Dynasty" already includes the word "nasty."
Mac was feral before he moved in with us and as a result he's a little PTSD-ish about watching "Animal Planet" though he's perfectly fine watching humans shoot each other so we tend to wind up on the "History Channel" fighting WWII again. And again.
We dialed in just in time for a commercial about a non-stick, flip-the-whole-pan flap jack maker. Now we were getting somewhere because just that morning we'd discovered that the secret to pancakes was the wrist flip. By the time you got any good at it, you were out of mix.
In the meantime, you wind up with skid marks on the leading edge of your flapjack and a big bad batter berm stacked up against the pan on the other side. Syrup runs off this thing like an "A" frame in a windstorm. Which is why the waffle iron was out. I mean, if you can't flip a flapjack you can still press a waffle, right?
Ever notice that when the NTSB investigates a plane crash, they always say it was the result of a series of things? No one thing ever crashes a plane. They ain't wrong.
So there I am. Making a sandwich and watching this loooong commercial about the flap jack flipper. Mac is standing on the counter just like he's not supposed to be and he's looking at the sandwich, then looks at the waffle iron right next door. Sandwich, waffle iron. Sandwich, waffle iron. And then, like a lightening bolt, I get it.
"You want me to put the sandwich in the waffle iron?"
"No, wait. You want me to put the sandwich in the waffle iron? Is that it?"
"Hold on. You want me to put the sandwich in the WAFFLE iron? And cook it. Right?"
Collapses with apathy.
It was like that seminal moment when Sherlock Holmes yells, "Watson, come here. I've discovered the telephone."
You put a sandwich in a weighted grill and you got a panini. Buuut… if you put a sandwich in a waffle iron you got a WANINI!
Forget, "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Now it's "WA-NI-NI! WA-NI-NI! WA-NI-NI!"
Food Channel here I come. Bite me nasty Duck Dynasty.
So I slide my sandwich into the brand new Wanini Grill (patent and trademark pending) fire it up to seven on the Richter scale (mine only goes to seven, go figure). It sizzles a little, the lid settles in and in two minutes I open up the Waninier™ and there's a perfectly grilled Wanini™, complete with little waffle holes individually toasted into the bread.
BONUS: the north-south-east-west ridges of the waffle iron form perfect cutting lines, so making snack-sized finger sandwiches for your next Party Lights soirée will be a snap.
In the spirit of full disclosure, however, all successful inventors will readily admit that what really sets their initiatives apart is the iterative process – the nuances of refinement. And while the Original Wanini™ was indeed pleasing, critics might note a bit of dryness. And, as everyone knows, there's only two ways to fix dryness in a Wanini: mayonnaise or cheese. When in doubt, double up on both.
Back to the counter: two pieces of bread, double the mayonnaise both slices, two pieces of American sliced white cheese (one on each slice), chopped onions, and sliced lunchmeat (doesn't matter what kind, no one's getting out of here alive no matter what you eat).
Carefully position the Wanini in the Waninier™, crank to seven (or high) and – because the ingredients have doubled - increase cook time appropriately.
Sidebar: The fundamental difference between a dog and a cat is that dogs will call for help but cats will go for help. We've all seen it happen a million times.
Timmy falls down the well. Never mind that having an open well accessible to children is an attractive nuisance and an actionable tort, or some clean water violation, or a Fed Shed water rights beef. Timmy's up to his butt in murky water holding the broken end of a rope and Lassie's peering down at him with that look that says, "Learns slow."
So Timmy shouts up, "Go get help, girl" and Lassie charges off to the house. Which is where the kibble is. She jumps through an open window, that Timmy's parents have learned to keep open for just this eventuality, and runs into the phone, knocking it to the floor, where Mable, the operator says,
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
Hello? Is somebody there?
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
Lassie, is that you?
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
Lassie, is something wrong?
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
Lassie, did Timmy fall down the well?
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
Edna, call Andy – Timmy fell down the damn well again!
WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!
Don’t worry girl, help is the way!
Then Lassie saunters over to the kibble bag and snouts in up to her ears until Andy and Barney arrive. Or maybe Lumpy and Maynard G. Krebbs, hard to say who shows up from week to week to pull Timmy out. Point is Lassie didn't go get help, she lazied around until someone else came to drag Kid Dummy out of the well. Again.
Mac, on the other hand, didn't hesitate for a moment. None of this me telling him to "Go get help, boy" crap. As soon as that sandwich caught fire in the waffle iron, there was a crack in the atmosphere where he left. When he hit the three inch opening of the sliding glass doors he stretched out like a cheetah in full flight, caught some big air and became 5 inches longer and 2 inches thinner. His fur didn't even ruffle as he busted the move. He hit the patio and pulled up like an Iditarod musher standing on the snow brake, whirled around and started finger spelling, "Get low, get out!" which is no small feat if your feet have no thumbs. He was out there pacing around until overwhelmed with adrenaline and then passed out for a nap.
When an insurance adjuster comes to your home and asks you a series of "routine questions" you can take my word for it that there really are no routine questions. The issue is "frequency and severity" and so, based on the time Mac and I set the microwave on fire, I already knew we weren't even close to a deductible.
As an historic sidebar, however, I would like to make two observations about microwaves: a) the dumbest place to put the warning "DO NOT MICROWAVE" is on the bottom of the food you bought at the store; and b) if a microwave is so damn smart, how come it doesn't know when it's on fire? But all that's water under the bridge since the Baroness actually likes the new microwave better than the one that burned up, so score one for random chance.
We all know what happens when you put a bullet in a furnace; and we know that paper ignites at 451 degrees Fahrenheit (or at least it did when I read the classic comic book version of the book). Less clear is what happens when you put a sandwich in a waffle iron for more than three minutes on high, hint: think theoretical physicist vs. experimental, i.e., that which you think should happen vs. that which actually does.
Fortunately the smoke pouring out of the back of the house went unnoticed by my neighbors to the east and south as they were on vacation, and since the neighbor on the north doesn't like us at all he didn't call the fire department, so we caught a pass. And, overall, you’d be surprised how quickly smoke dissipates from a house, once you've got the bread all watered down.
Since I hadn't been playing with a full loaf, I was temporarily out of the Wanini business. When dinner time rolled around, however, I couldn't help but notice the day-old cold pizza in the refrigerator.
So, Mac is back up on the counter where he's not supposed to be and watches me pull out the pizza box. I open it up and notice that it's right next door to the waffle iron. And I am back in business, because if you cut up two pieces of pizza, put them face-to-face and slide them into a waffle iron, you got a Walzone™!
And that's when I noticed Mac pawing at the back door. He was going for help. Early.