Note: A quick glance at the list of tags for this post will give you a sense of just how ridiculous it is, so only read on if you genuinely have nothing better to do. You have been warned!
The other day I put a dummy in a saucepan of water to sterilise it, and then sat down to chat to my friend Jon, who’s currently staying with us. An hour later Jon mentioned that he thought he could smell something burning. He was right.
Now many glass-half-empty-type people would see this event as a minor domestic disaster, murmur something about absentmindedness and sleep-deprivation being a toxic mix, chuckle to themselves about their unintended piece of wordplay, and think nothing more of it.
I, however, am not such a person. I think of such incidents not as disasters, but as valuable – if surprisingly expensive – learning experiences, and try to glean as much as I can from them, for my own betterment, and for the betterment of others (especially, in this case, the childless and those afflicted with children who are dummy-averse.)
Here is a short list of what I consider to be my most valuable discoveries.
1) One might think that the longer you boil a dummy, the more sterilised it will be, but this is not, in fact, the case. After an hour, a dummy is not only no longer particularly sterile (particularly if the saucepan in question is Teflon coated), but is also no longer, in any recognisable form, a dummy.
2) Super-hot latex will form a gas which will then re-condense as a liquid film on the saucepan lid, while superhot plastic will remain in a liquid form and evenly coat the saucepan base: thus rendering both parts of the saucepan unusable.
3) For those of you who thought (as I did for many years) that ‘overcooking’ microwave popcorn was the best way for apolitical agoraphobics to enjoy the sensual delights of tear gas without the physical, moral and psychological discomfort that comes with rioting outside a G20 meeting, you were wrong, wrong, wrong!
4) In the middle of transferring the saucepan from the kitchen to the backyard, I also managed to answer that age-old question of how to get superhot liquid plastic in a saucepan to combust: all you need is for the lid to fall off as you are sprinting out the back door. The sudden increase in available oxygen will do the trick every time.
5) It is actually easier than you might think to produce small, perfectly-round, black circles in the middle of your lawn.
6) Exhaust fans have their limitations, as do cross-ventilation and incense.
7) You don’t need to toss out that plastic and teflon coated saucepan. You can reuse it as a base for a pot plant (as long as the pot plant in question can cope with a high level of toxicity). You can even paint the saucepan, if you like (perhaps with a pink skull and crossbones). If you want to know more, it’s all here in a thought-provoking blog post on the Mother Nature Network entitled ‘Reusing teflon pans: Get creative!’
7) Lastly, if you’re going to have houseguests, make sure that they are poor conversationalists. I wasn’t able to find any stats on how many people die every year as a result of being absorbed in an interesting conversation, but I’m sure the number is greater than those killed by jellyfish in the Philippines every year, for example.
So who’s the dummy now, huh?
* For speakers of American English, a Dummy is what we call a Pacifier/Binky.