Do You Smell Smoke?

In the world of S. Janzen, it’s good to have a backup plan.

After a month or two of procrastinating, I finally made my way back to the gym.  I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy it…and how hungry I am an hour afterwards.

We’re burning calories for a reason, right?  Right.  And that would be to compensate for the 3 PM urge to eat everything in sight.

Going to the gym has a funny effect on me.  After 30 minutes on the treadmill, I become a superhero of nutrition–which is why I chose the weight watchers popcorn in the office vending machine when today’s three o’clock urge kicked in.

It seemed harmless enough.  I even vaguely remember having read an article 15 years or so years ago that heralded popcorn as a diet food.  Of course, that was back when eggs were still bad for you.

Because I’m a good employee, I decided I should microwave it in the second floor kitchen–instead of letting the smell of melted butter waft through the 12th floor.  I thought my co-workers would appreciate the consideration.

Unfortunately, I won’t be making an appearance on the 2nd floor again any time soon.  And, if you see the Fire Marshall, do me a favor and don’t mention my name.

I don’t remember precisely when I learned to cook microwave popcorn.  But I do remember someone, more than likely my mother, telling me to count seconds between pops…and if you were able to count three seconds without a pop, it was good to go.  Of course, once it’s cooking I never remember the three second rule–it always seems like it should be ten.  Ten is such a solid number.

It’s three.  At ten, smoke pours from the microwave–while the door is closed.  And that begs the question…why did I think opening the door would be a good thing?  In a matter of seconds the kitchen was filled with smoke.  It looked like I had torched a cornfield–which was almost fitting considering I had that Children of the Corn look on my face. 

 In perhaps my only moment of clarity, I recalled the relationship between fire and water–which sent me running to the sink with my blazing bag o’ nutrition.

You probably won’t believe me when I tell you that it continued to smoke once it was water logged…and it continued to smoke once I threw it (water logged) into the trash bin, and it even continued to smoke as I dug around in my purse for .85 to buy a bag of M&M’s–because gosh darnit that’s what I really went down there for anyway.  But it’s true.

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What Would You Do For a Coke?


 Let me just say…I loved this Super Bowl commercial.  On so many levels.

If you know me, you know I drink a Coke with a frequency that borders on religious practice.  Some, or at least one who will remain nameless, would say the amount of Coke I’ve had in the morning is a fair indication of how sweet I’ll be for the remainder of the day.  I’d like to think that’s a bit of an exaggeration….

My mother is to blame for this nasty habit (aren’t our parents always to blame?).   After all, she was the one who told me coffee stunts your growth–a declaration that has kept me from joining the billion or so Starbuck-ians of the world in their pursuit of the perfect Vente Mocha Frappa Foamed Madness–that, and the fact I think it tastes like battery acid.  I might have been able to live with the acid part just to be 5’10”.

There have been times I’ve truly wished I could stomach the taste of coffee.  In Paris, where the formula for Coke is sweeter…and on Safari in South Africa.

There’s an art to having a coke in the morning when you’re on Safari.  Rest camps in Kruger National Park are few and far between.  If your entrance gate doesn’t sell concessions, there’s a very real chance you won’t be on the same planet as a Coke for hours.  If you share my morning addiction, you know what hours feel like.  For the rest of you–imagine sitting on hold with US Airways for an estimated 102 minutes–and then multiply it by 50.

On my second trip to Kruger, I was forced into one of those mornings.  It took 3 hours to get to a rest camp with a coke machine.  This particular camp was on the small-ish side so the Coke machine was truly a gift from God.  I am convinced the heavens delivered it to appease my prayers–which were becoming a bit desperate by the time we pulled up.  Dear God, forgive me for the blog I wrote about my mother’s shoe disintegrating at Andrea’s wedding.  I promise I will never, ever, ever write about it again…

I believe I set records leaping from the truck.  Forget skill, all Olympic athletes really need is motivation.  Mine was locked in a red and white cooler with a 12 Rand price tag.  In hindsight, I should have realized this was a bit too easy…I mean, really…this was a Coke machine in the middle of the bush.  It’s not exactly like the Zebras are keeping it stocked.  But I didn’t really think that through.  At least not until I heard the heavy clank of Rand and pushed every button on the machine…50 times. And you wonder how Americans get nasty reputations while traveling abroad…it seemed perfectly reasonable to wrap my body around the machine at the time.

Maybe it was pity, maybe it was luck…maybe it was the 51st time I pressed the button to vend–but just as I began to accept defeat, a Coke made its way down the internal slide of the machine and landed at my feet.

 (This is where I sang the halleluiah chorus off key).

All was good with the world.

Or, should I say…all was momentarily good with the world?

Since we had technically exited the park in my quest for caffeine, we had to re-enter the park by showing our receipt to the guard at the gate.

A nice fellow. 

So nice, in fact, that I thought he was kidding when he asked me if he could have my coke.  I was convinced he was just making fun of my earlier acrobatics. So I said “Sure!”  (Haha Haha).

And he took it.

That’s right, he took it.  Gone.  Done.  Finished.  The only coke on the planet at that moment.

And all I could do was smile.

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Excuse Me While I…

 On a typical day, I exit the office after a short conversation with my friend and co-worker, Beth.  It generally goes something like this: 

Me:  I feel like beating my head against the window. 

Beth:  Oooohhh…that’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.

Don’t misunderstand:  we both love what we do. 

Last night our conversation drifted to evening plans. She was going to relax and I…well…I’d be re-attaching my bathroom door.  

The “How” behind the state of the door is a blog post for another time.  For now, it’s enough to reference the mushroom crop that grew out of the frame a year ago.

I live by myself…so you might think the necessity of a bathroom door would fall low on the list of necessities.   Let me give you a hint:  Not so much.

I don’t know if it’s a girl thing.  Or a southern thing.  Or a southern girl thing.  But it’s definitely a thing.  And it’s a sentiment men don’t seem to share.  Privacy, what’s that?

I’ve decided there must be a rule in the man handbook that says “If a woman is in the bathroom for more than sixty seconds, you must go and check on her.”  How else do you explain the transformation from mute couch potato to chatty Cathy once the door is closed?

Beth, who has recently settled into a life of matrimonial bliss, agrees with my assessment on this.  Her husband sees the closed door as an open invitation to discuss profound world events–like the hairball the cat coughed up and his desire to eat a ham sandwich for lunch.

Perhaps it’s one of those things we weren’t meant to understand?  You tell me…but let me close the door first.

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