Time and Time Again Part 4
By Rex Hurst
With the oddball red beet and yogurt pancakes finished, Schultz flipped one after another onto a plate, and dragged a jug of maple syrup from the fridge. Often in the past when he had made pancakes, his family had grown angry over the time it had taken for the pancake to be done, to when they were actually served. This was because Schultz had a specific system of distribution of butter and syrup. It was vitally important to him that the bottom pancake received just as much syrup as the top one. A feat very few people can accomplish.
Each pancake was placed on its own individual plate, until the batter ran dry – usually averaging about five to a stack. The butter was then taken out and placed cut into slices of ⅛ of an inch. He had gotten into heated arguments in the past with his bovine wife over the exact placement of the butter.
Schultz preferred the butter to be at room temperature, and thus sitting in a covered butter dish on the pantry ledge. At this temperature it would spread easily and lovingly over the bread, just like in the commercials. His wife preferred it to be refrigerated, so “it would last longer”. But when cut and spread, it cruelly ripped the bread, making the entire meal a travesty. Being much larger than him, his wife won in the end and Schultz was forced to soften his butter in the microwave – which was always a mixed bag. Half the time it wasn’t thoroughly softened enough. The other half, it melted into a runny mess. Once the pat was ready, he smeared one over each of the red pancakes using a circular motion.
Next came the syrup. It had taken much experimentation over the decades, but he found that exactly four tablespoons, each heated with a bic lighter under the spoon and dripped over the cake, was the perfect amount. After this was administered, each pancake was slipped from their plate onto another, until the stack stood on a singular dish.
The repast proudly displayed before him, Schultz wolfed it down with the abandon of a condemned man’s last meal. With all the care he put into the eggs, the pancakes, and the coffee they were all mushed together in his mouth as he zipped from one to the other. The flavors barely able to make an impact across his taste buds, before being stuffed down his gullet.
Not that he didn’t want to sit and savor the food. But he had realized that he was not at a critical juncture. So much time had been spent on food prep, that he had to practically inhale the repast or his wife would be right.
He’d be late for work.
And that couldn’t happen.
Schultz dodged about the bottom floor, trying to juxtapose eating his meal with all the other little chores one had to do just before leaving the house. Find the car keys. Chow some eggs. Straighten the tie. Slurp down coffee. Double check the papers in the briefcase. Nosh a beet red pancake. Shine the shoes a bit. Another pancake. Make sure his fly was zipped. Chug the rest of the coffee.
A single massive belch later and he was ready. Or so he thought. His reflection in the strategically placed mirror by the door, caught him up short. He stared deep into it. Crumbs.
Crumbs everywhere! Red ones from the pancakes. Yellow ones from the eggs. What was he to do? This delay might make him late for work.
He remembered from his childhood home, Schultz’s mother would keep a small brush by the door for just such an emergency, but time had eliminated those little touches of home life. Schultz was forced to use the kitchen floor broom, an instrument rife with dust bunnies and various bits of unidentified crud. As he swept himself, Schultz noticed he was simply replacing the food particles with other weird little bits, making him look almost like a hobo.
What else could he use?
Schultz, still covered in little bits of food from breakfast, grabbed the vacuum from the hall closet. Unfortunately, it was a wet vac – those vacuums designed to clean up liquid spills and wet debris, along with dry dust and dirt. A slick salesman had conned Schultz’s wife into buying it for three hundred dollars a few years ago.
The thing actually worked pretty well, but it had to be disassembled into fifty pieces, filled with water, and screwed back together for the vacuum to fulfil its manufactured raison d’etre. Then you had to move the thing about carefully, or there was every chance you could accidentally pull out a house or detach the base from its wheels. He preferred the devices where you only had to flip a switch and all the dirt was sucked away into eternity.
He used to have a dust-buster for these minor jobs but had broken it one night when he used it to chase a mouse which had taken up residence in their home. While trying to shoo the animal out of the back door, Schulz had tripped on a loose rug and fallen face first into a wall, cracking the dust-buster in half. When he stood back up, it looked like the device had been given a bad nose job.
He dragged the apparatus into the kitchen and awkwardly fitted the vacuum’s bowl under the tap. One had to fill the chamber with water, the dirt was then sucked into the chamber, and it made for easy removal from the vacuum. Unfortunately, the chamber didn’t fit properly under the sink tap and half the water that came out splashed all over Schultz’s clothes. After the awkward connection of the chamber to the base and the insertion of the hose to the chamber, and then the connection of the nozzle to the hose, Schultz was at last ready to clean himself up.
It took two seconds to accomplish, as opposed to the ten minutes it took to put the vacuum together