What’s for Dinner?

I was preparing dinner Saturday night. I cooked the chicken breasts in the oven to perfection. The meat thermometer read 170 degrees. I had my cutting board prepared to receive the breasts, and I began slicing them. Halfway through the second breast, a large black spider DARTED OUT OF THE CHICKEN and ran across the board and then cowered underneath it. I screamed. My husband, who was in the next room, within certain earshot, didn’t emerge until I had been shrieking a good 20 seconds. If I had been ablaze, I would have been ashes on the floor. Smoldering.

He use to come to my aid much more quickly. Like when we were courting.

Years ago, I lived in a small house, and since I painted furniture, I spent a good deal of my day outdoors working, so the fumes wouldn’t overtake me. And it was California, where the sun was always shining, and the temperatures were mostly pleasant year round.

One day, I noticed a large mangy cat prowling around my yard. He spotted me and hissed. In MY Yard. He was frothing at the mouth. Never a good sign if you’re of the cat variety. So I retreated indoors. He began stalking my house, and terrorizing my indoor cat by hissing, spitting, and then charging at the sliding glass door that she was behind. I called animal control, but they said that they could do nothing unless the cat attacked someone. They helpfully suggested that I catch Psycho Kitty, and bring it to them. Then I suggested that they…well, never mind what I suggested.

Some time went by. One day I was working outside and Psycho Kitty appeared out of nowhere, looking at me menacingly. I was not going to cave this time. I was going to defend my home and my right to be out of doors. I picked up the garden hose, turned it on, and let Psycho Kitty have it. Right in the puss. This made Psycho Kitty angry and she began to charge at me, even through the water spray. I was backing away, with the garden hose squirting at full capacity, screaming my head off. That cat had me cornered, and I continued screaming. No one came to my rescue as I was being accosted. My neighbor later told me that she thought I was “playing” with the cat.

Allrightythen.

Finally, I gathered up what little courage I had, threw the hose at the cat and made a mad dash into the house, with Psycho Kitty close at my heels. I made it inside and slammed the door in his whiskers. I called my fiancé, who is now my husband. I was hysterical, and he could barely understand what I was saying. All he understood was “Psycho Kitty” and “attacked”. With visions of his fiancé being mauled by this cat, he hopped into his little Honda and raced to my rescue. When he arrived, the hose was still running and Psycho Kitty, sat across from my door, soaked to the skin, glowering. He came quickly in, but was a little miffed I think, that I wasn’t a bleeding heap of shredded ribbons, as he had imagined from all of my carrying on.

We called animal control, and this time they came to ensnare Psycho Kitty, and drag his sorry self away. Good riddance. I was told that he would be “put down” if no one came to claim him in a week. I wanted to be the one to pull the switch.

Two weeks later I was happily working outside. I felt like someone was watching me. I turned to look over my shoulder. There perched on the concrete retaining wall, was Psycho Kitty. Staring at me. I called animal control and was informed that Psycho Kitty’s owner had come to claim him. At the eleventh hour. Someone actually claimed that cat? I began working indoors. What harm could a few paint fumes do. I would be moving within the next two weeks anyway.

After ten years of marriage, I suppose my husband has heard his share of wife shrieking. Perhaps I am a little high strung. But come on, when a spider comes out of your chicken breast, doesn’t that warrant a scream? Or four? When I analyzed the situation though, I came to the conclusion that a spider really couldn’t have come out of the chicken breast. When he fled across the stove, just at the time my alfredo sauce was boiling over, the spider was incinerated. Ex post facto, he was not impervious to heat.

Despite this reasoning, no one was really hungry for chicken after that. Especially the spider.

(Originally published March, 2007)

August 14, 2008

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