Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist..."

Living in my current situation, the majority of my brain thinks that things in this house are actually as they seem. And by that, I mean that I am living with my mother and my 86 year old grandfather, and that after 86 years dear old grandpa has managed to amass his own rather large collection of quirks and idiosyncrasies, and he has a fixed routine that he likes to follow to help him maintain the order of his life, and as a direct result of his habits and routines he has become VERY VERY particular about anything and everything. (And I do mean VERY particular about *EVERYTHING.) (*So particular in fact that I actually got a serious verbal reprimand the other day because I had an apple for breakfast instead of a banana... Yeah. We're talking that psycho about WHICH FRUIT I EAT FOR BREAKFAST!) The larger part of my brain also tends to think that his behavior is the way it is as a direct result of being 86, and having some stage of dementia, senility, or whatever term you prefer to denote the degeneration of the aging human brain. Anyway.

There is another little part of my brain that harbors a persistent nagging doubt.

Part of me wonders if I've not walked into a delicately crafted scenario, wherein an old man deceives his family members into thinking he's totally lost it, and he only gets through the day as a direct result of following his fixed routine, but in reality he is totally lucid, and just drives them totally and completely nuts with his demands and "idiosyncrasies" as a form of personal amusement. This is totally the sick type of sense of humor I have, so the problem comes from figuring out if that nagging doubt in my head is a subtle part of reality, or if it's just me projecting onto grandpa the kind of octogenarian I'd like to be.

The question remains, is my grandfather the Keyser Soze of his generation? Is he pushing my mom and I to the breaking point just to get his jollies, or just to see how long we'll put up with it, or just how far we'll go out of our way to appease him? Is it just an intricately crafted facade to get us to think we are leaving the house on a daily basis for the sake of our own sanity, when in reality it's just his way of getting rid of us long enough so that he can do whatever it is that he does without us around? Because let's face facts here, being a demanding and generally cantankerous old geezer generally lends itself to getting your way and then being left alone because nobody wants to deal with you and your demands.

The truth remains to be seen.

So, I bet some of you are wondering why I mention this now, instead of leading off with the answer to yesterday's photo contest. Trust me, the two are related.

Decide for yourself if you think it was deliberate or an accident, but yesterday evening as my mother and I entered the home at the appointed time we noted a thin haze of smoke in the kitchen. And though nobody was in any kind of panic mode, there were no smoke alarms going off, and no fire extinguisher was present, the home smelled distinctly of a fire.

We called out that we had arrived.

We checked the oven. Nothing.

We checked the pots on the stove. Not being heated at the moment.

We wondered what the hell was burning.

We wondered why SOMEONE ELSE who was actually home (someone who supposedly has all of his faculties) hadn't noticed it.

We looked in the breakfast nook which is just off the kitchen and found the smoke a little thicker.

We opened the microwave to be greeted by another puff of smoke briefly billowing upwards, and that previously pictured object fully charred, still smoldering, and resting comfortably in the middle of the microwave. The following conversation ensued:

Mom: "What is that?"

Liz: "You're asking me?"

Mom: "What was that?"

Grandpa: "What was what?"

Mom: "THAT! That black thing that is still smoldering in the middle of the microwave and smoking up the kitchen!"

Grandpa: "Oh, that was your baked potato."

(Congratulations SarahReznor)

Mom: "A baked potato? How long did you put it in for?"

Grandpa: "Ohh.... about 13 minutes."

Mom: "A potato that small probably only would have taken three minutes!"

Grandpa: "Well eat if it you want it. If not, throw it away." (Moves to throw it in the trash)

Liz: (As grandpa drops the charred sphere that was once a potato into the garbage) "Umm, you might want to run some water over that."

Grandpa: "No, it's out."

(Not wanting to issue a correction and incur his wrath, I let him drop it in the trash and secretly prayed it would land on something that would flare up for a moment and prove me right... It didn't but to avoid a more serious smoke and fire situation later, as grandpa exited the room I plucked it from the garbage can and ran water over it, as it was clearly still glowing and sizzling... And then I photographed it for our little guessing game.)

Ok, so he knew exactly when we were coming home. (Down to like a five minute window.) He put a tiny potato into the microwave for 13 minutes. He didn't put it on a plate or a paper plate, and he didn't cover it with a paper towel or anything that would burn quickly or out of control. He didn't wrap it in foil, so there was not a risk of the microwave wigging out, the wiring melting, and the whole house going up in flames. He put it directly onto the spinning tempered glass disk in the bottom of the microwave. After 13 minutes of burning, (plus however many minutes of smoldering after the time on the microwave had expired) he conveniently didn't see or smell the smoke. He left it for us to find as we walked in.

So, what is it? The handiwork of a senile old man who should never be left alone, or the work of an evil genius adding yet another carefully calculated layer of "error" to an aging-genius/ Keyser-Soze-like image of incompetence that he may or may not be so skillfully painting for us. At the moment, I think it's really a toss-up. He's smart enough that I wouldn't put it past him, or at least he WAS smart enough... I don't know anything for certain anymore.

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