They say a watched pot never boils. I say an unwatched pot boils over. At least ours did, with results like the Salvador Dali surrealism show in Philadelphia.
I was shaving upstairs when I heard a sudden concussion. There was no red alert on our street. Had UPS dropped a weighty package on the stoop? Had the furnace boiler finally imploded, despite my attempts to keep the water level safe?
No, everything was fine.
But I went into the kitchen for breakfast and saw that, somehow, I had not gotten the word. Four eggs had been left boiling. Now the water was gone.
Two eggs had exploded out of the pan, and what was not shrapnel was really hard-boiled. Two were glued to the bottom of the pan, which was blackened perhaps for eternity. I turned off the burner.
The surviving egg fragments were not bad with a little salt and a leftover bagel. I could easily clean off the stove before spouse and lunch guest arrived. Then I noticed the walls next to the stove were newly decorated. A stream of dried yolk ran down the cabinet over the exhaust fan.
Oh, no. The grill of the fan was festooned also. And behind the grill, yes, the filter was clogged with yellow.
I lifted my eyes to the ceiling. Pure Dali. Or maybe Jackson Pollock if he had ever tried drip painting overhead instead of on the floor.
Some might say a thoughtful person would start cleaning from the ceiling down. I don't know about you, but I get rattled when eggs explode. I sponged the horizontal surfaces and then covered them with paper towels to catch scrapings from above.
It took pliers to loosen the screws holding the fan grill and filter. They had a visible amount of greasy buildup in addition to the recent unpleasantness. Blessing in disgust: Maybe I was being reminded of something I should have remembered many hamburgers ago.
Hot water. Lots of hot water. Detergent. Lots of detergent. I had a sinkful of ominous, oleaginous liquid. After nearly boiling my hands, too, I saw the tiny print on the filter: "Clean often with hot water and detergent." I was doing something right.
Our guest never would have known anything had happened if she had not been told at unnecessary length.
I only wish our small grandchildren had been there for the cannonade - out of range of course. They would have loved this way of learning that their favorite (at least the whites) boiled eggs don't grow on trees. And maybe they'd see just how constructive water play can be.