Note: This is a republication of a Heck Of A Guy entry titled “Thanksgiving Memory – Man Triumphs Over Industrial Might To Assure Family Will Be Overfed” originally posted on this site November 23, 2006. Viewers who read it then are excused from this assignment but should be aware this content will be covered on the final.
Turkey Fixé À L’intérieur Du Four À Cuire: The Turkey Story Julie Didn’t Write
That this episode qualifies as a Thanksgiving Memory signifies how uneventful most DrHGuy family Thanksgivings have been and how few of my recollections don’t fit the “Apotheosis of St. Julie” theme.
It Was A Thanksgiving Like Any Other, Until …
After Julie1 and I have been together for a few years but before Da Boyz are even a gleam in parental eyes, we decide that, while we don’t have time to make it to our homes in the Ozarks for Thanksgiving, we will take the day off (I have previously spent at least a half-day making hospital rounds on Thanksgiving) and invite one of my medical school buddies, who also lives in Chicago, and her friend to share our holiday dinner.
Consequently, our opening scene is populated with four adults, enjoying a relatively sophisticated (i.e., alcohol is present; children are not) Thanksgiving celebration.
Julie has, as one might expect, set the table with the good (i.e., never before used) silver and dinnerware, forbidden me to offer (even the really good) potato chips as appetizers, and prepared a traditional turkey dinner.
Our guests arrive early in the day and within minutes are in the kitchen helping. I am elsewhere; I don’t recall my activities at this point, but I am, no doubt, performing some manly task such as taking out the trash, cleaning my guns, tuning up the car, placing wagers on the day’s football games, perusing pornography, … .
We Need A Hero
We have, of course, purchased a turkey large enough to feed not only four adults but the four extended families of those four adults. The bird will, in fact, barely fit into the oven.
In her determination to assure the oven door is fully closed, Julie instinctively shoves the lever that secures the oven door to the “Locked” position, which indeed pulls the door shut another fraction of an inch.
It also triggers the oven’s self-cleaning mechanism.
For those unfamiliar with the workings of a self-cleaning oven, the first paragraph of the pertinent entry in HowStuffWorks commendably covers the information essential to comprehend the circumstances:
Self-cleaning ovens use an approximately 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius) temperature cycle to burn off spills leftover from baking, without the use of any chemicals. A self-cleaning oven is designed with a mechanical interlock (patented in 1982) to keep the oven door locked and closed during and soon after the high-temperature cleaning cycle, which can be approximately three hours. The door stays locked to prevent burn injuries. You can open the oven door after the oven cools to approximately 600 F (315 C).
Panic ensues. All three of the kitchen crew are, however, professionals, used to dealing with crises, and they staunch the emotional flooding to deliberate on the conundrum they face and possible solutions. The implications of the self-cleaning cycle progressing through completion with our dinner locked inside are contemplated. Panic resumes at an impressively escalated level.
I am summoned.
To fully appreciate the level of desperation this turkey terror has precipitated, one has only to know that (1) Julie and my friend are both familiar with the extent of my handyman expertise2 and (2) they ask me to help anyway.
The Manly Challenge
I immediately assess the situation and initiate the testosterone-driven Standard Repair Of Non-automotive Machinery Sequence, Midwestern American Male Version:
- Using moderate force, pull the lever toward the unlocked position.
- Using more force, pull the lever toward the unlocked position.
- Bracing knee against wall, pull the lever toward the unlocked position while making those grunting noises that, as is well-known, magnify ones muscle strength.
- Utter mild-moderate scatology in sotto voice.
- Search for tool kit.
Whack lever with rubber mallet.Implement tool-incorporative percussive adjustment.
- Distinctly announce incredibly vulgar curse.
- Note the turkey’s distinctly unpleasant reaction to the still increasing oven heat.
- Speculate on possibility of finding a McDonald’s open on Thanksgiving.
- Bond with wife and guests by embracing their panic.
- Ask ladies to leave room while I
pound onponder the problem.
- Use large screwdriver to pry open oven door.
- Reflect on the question of why, given the workmanship and stout materials used in constructing Craftsman screwdrivers and Kenmore electric ovens, Sears isn’t doing better financially.
- Realize, upon reconsidering my own observations from Step #13, I am indeed an idiot.
- Go to basement, find something that looks like it should be a circuit breaker box, locate oven circuit,3 switch that circuit breaker off.
- Saunter upstairs, wait 15 minutes for oven to cool, open door.
The Triumphant Finish
After assuring that the turkey isn’t desiccated or otherwise ruined, I reset the circuit breaker, and only then notify Julie and our guests that all is well, implying that I had somehow broken the code, defeating the mechanical integrity of the oven to open the door in an astutely competent, albeit mysterious manner. I acknowledge their accolades with all the modesty I can muster and pass the remainder of the day resting on my well-earned laurels.4
The turkey, the rest of the dinner, and the fellowship are, in a word, dandy.
And, on Thanksgiving 2006 [and 2010], I’m thankful for this memory._____________________
- Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman and prize-winning author, with whom I had a outrageously wonderful 20 year marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. Many posts on this blog are about her, our unlikely romance, and our life together, and still others consist of her writings. Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ. [↩]
- My friend’s friend may have known as well; it has, apparently, been in all the papers. [↩]
- Sub-step #15a. Issue sigh of relief and gratitude that the oven is on its own circuit so that turning it off will not shut down the power for the entire house [↩]
- It is, of course, possible that by the time I finished my various ministrations, the door would have opened on its own. I choose to ignore that explanation and its potential attenuation of the dramatic impact of the story. [↩]