The sock-eating washer or dryer may be the most common imp befuddling us, but not the only one. This week a stranger, rarer variety of gremlin visited us.
Our range has five dials, one for each burner. That is the way the appliance gods designed, built and delivered it. Then suddenly, the far left dial disappeared.
While not in the stranger-than-fiction class, this played to several of my small neuroses. As the primary cook in this family, I am likely too involved in things culinary. I want to know what’s in the fridge, pantry and fruit bowls. I plan the week’s meals as I shop the Haymarket and groceries (always plural). I am emotionally involved in the kitchen.
Yet, there suddenly was one fewer range dials then there had been when I was away for two days and one night to NYC.
Our two younger sons manned the crenellations in our family fort. At 18 and 21, and OK cooks in their own right, they were in charge. Moreover, a friend was visiting from the wilds of Western Connecticut to accompany her daughter on a college-scouting trip. She’d stay while hers bunked with a girlfriend. So, there was cooking and hosting to occur in that same kitchen.
Neither son had any idea where the dial had gone. Neither had reason to remove one. As they became available, each in turn furrowed his brow and checked where I had — under the kitchen table, bookshelf, cabinet overhangs, and moved every object on the counters. We expanded into the pantry, living room and dining room. Nada.
Then we come back to my neuroses. I strongly prefer matching sets and things where (I believe) they belong. I remember various of my three sons using subs for efficacy, think a quarter for a missing rook.
For me, I’d have to find the dial or track down the source for either a matching one or a set of five that fit. That’s not a cliff-climb challenge, but an annoyance.
Our visiting chum was back home and running about, so I emailed her. She responded the next morning that she had cleaned off the range top after making a meal, but had not removed any dials.
But there were four instead of five, and a bronze finger presenting blatantly against the black control panel.
Ever methodical, I turned to the very unlikely. I prepared to move the stove on the off chance that someone had mindlessly removed a dial by accident or while cleaning and flipped or knocked it unnoticed behind the panel. Yeah, yeah, why would that happen?
I pressed my big old head next to the wall before moving the stove. Mirabile dictu! The dial not only was visible, it was reachable. It was just big enough that it has caught on a panel bulge and not plunged four and a half feet to the floor (and quite likely out of sight).
So, we know and yet shall never know. We know where the dial landed but not how or who propelled it there. My foibles do not extend to blame and stop at what and where.
Now, upstairs in a bedroom drawer with my bike shorts and socks, I keep three single anklets. I expect them to present themselves at some point.