In 2002, I was living in Inverness, Scotland. My fiancé and I were renting a fantastic little apartment that looked like something straight out of a catalogue. My favourite part was the kitchen. It was a tad on the small side, but perfect for two people. The floors were terracotta tile, the cupboards were light pine, the appliances were stainless steel, and the walls were painted a pleasant buttery yellow. There was even a washing machine.
The apartment came to us looking the way it did, but if the decorating were left to us, we would have probably done it the same way.
There was one little thing about the kitchen that was a little odd: the “hood” above the stove wasn’t really a hood… it was a piece of decorative wood in front of an empty space. We never knew why the landlord didn’t install an exhaust fan, but it was never really an issue.
In April of that year, my sister and her then-boyfriend were supposed to be coming all the way from Canada to visit us for a little vacation. It was the first time I had ever met The Boyfriend.
Knowing that my sister had a few dietary issues that we would have to plan around, my fiancé and I came up with a series of sister-friendly meals so that she wouldn’t have to feel left out. The day after they arrived, which also happened to be my sister’s birthday, the dinner menu was to include roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed vegetables, and a mixed berry crumble for dessert.
I practically hibernated in the kitchen, making the dinner. There were dishes and ingredients everywhere- not a space to be found on the counters at all.
The Boyfriend popped his head into the kitchen and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I directed him towards a small baking pan, and practically threw some ingredients at him, telling him to put the crumble together… preferably in the dining room.
Put it together, he did. Like a boss. That thing was practically beautiful.
My man was doing what he did best, whenever I was busy making a big dinner: getting in the way. He got in the way at a champion level, picking that exact moment to “come in and help tidy up”.
By “come in and help tidy up”, I really mean “come in and magically be everywhere the wife needs to be”.
As I stood in front of the gas stove, sweating over my glazed carrots and mashed potatoes and dodging my man, The Boyfriend popped his head back into the kitchen and asked where he could put the pan of mixed berry crumble.
Knowing he’d never find a spot on the counter, I said: “Put it on top of the cupboards, it’s clean up there.”
To this day, I do not know exactly what made him forgo all the other cupboard tops.
I didn’t even think about what he was doing as I moved aside a little to let him squeeze into an available space in front of the stove. I simply moved aside, and kept stirring seasoning into the mashed potatoes.
In retrospect, that was probably what saved me.
As The Boyfriend was about to set the pan down on what he thought was a surface just above the stove, I looked up in horror.
There was an instant of panic in my eyes as the crumble began its downward spiral.
“Crap!” I shrieked, as the pan hit the stove top. The berries, and all their juices, went everywhere. Dark purple juices went all over the carrots, potatoes, nicely roasted chicken, the walls, counter, floor, you name it.
Everywhere but on me, apparently. I still have no clue how that happened.
I turned around. There behind me stood my man and The Boyfriend, with nice dark purple berry juice all over their white t-shirts and khaki shorts.
“Right!” I commanded. “Strip, you two!”
“Huh?” The Boyfriend asked, stupefied.
“You two are about the same size. You can borrow some clothing from my fiancé while I wash your clothes. If I get them into the wash right now, I can save them.”
I have to admit, I took no small amount of pleasure in the fact that there were two good looking men stripping down to their skivvies in my kitchen.
I managed to save their clothing from an evil stain, even if I never could get the berry juices completely off my nice yellow walls after that.
The dinner turned out to be oddly delicious. We had berry-flavoured roasted chicken, berry-flavoured glazed carrots, berry-flavoured mashed potatoes, and berry-flavoured gravy.
Needless to say, I never let The Boyfriend live it down after that. I made sure to tell everybody that I had him strip for me practically the day after meeting me.