The excitement of wedding festivities faded and the reality of my new life stood before me. My first challenge was to set-up the kitchen.
Aunt Barbara had given me four wooden canisters painted with Mexican chickens. I filled them with flour, sugar, tea bags, and loose instant coffee. The instant coffee solidified into an unpenetrable brick. I filled the canister with hot water. It fell apart. Coffee sludge splattered everything.
The kitchen sink clogged. I bought drain opener. I read the directions. Dissolved one-quarter cup of granules in one cup of water and let stand. I took out my new stainless steel measuring cup. I filled it with one-quarter cup drain opener and added water. Before I could place the cup down to let it stand, the fuming reaction dissolved it.
My first cooking attempt was tuna-noodle casserole. I salted the boiling water and dumped in the noodles. While it cooked, I mixed the tuna with mayonnaise, seasoning and salt. I stirred the cooked noodles and tuna together in a casserole dish, added more seasoning and salt then baked it at 350 degrees.
I spooned out a big helping on my dinner plate and salted it. When the first forkful filled my mouth, I lunged for the water to quench the wicked dryness choking me breathless.
Everyday brought new cooking revelations: remove directions from the broiler before turning on the oven: remove the bag of giblets before cooking the turkey: remove the off-season clothes stored in the oven before turning it on.
I learned a pot could burn when boiling water evaporated and was shocked that boiling eggs exploded when the boiling water disappears. Pea soup can exit through a pressure cooker valve at supersonic speeds. I needed a ladder to clean the ceiling. Take-out packets of soy sauce have a squirting range of over twenty feet.
To find things easily in the bathroom, I put the tubes of care products in a wicker basket on the toilet tank. Sleepy eyes don’t easily distinguish between a squeeze tube of shampoo and a tube of toothpaste. So, I spread the tubes around. I put some in the shower and mistakenly used my depilatory for shampoo.
I approached the first loads of wash with confidence. At the laundromat, I put the new set of sheets in one washer and the woolen sweaters in another and set the temperature on hot. To keep the sheets looking bright, I dumped in a hefty amount of bleach – before the washer filled. I lifted the lids often to check on their progress.
Suddenly, I realized the woolen sweaters were shrinking. Frantically, I pulled each one out of the washer, stretched it, then put it back in the machine. When the washer stopped, I had six woolen sweaters suitable for little monkeys with very long arms. My new sheet sets were bright and crisp, but had holes eaten by the bleach.
After a while, my one room apartment grew tight. A friendly realtor said,” I have a nice three-room apartment for the same price. It’s in a professional neighborhood.” Shortly after the move, I understood the realtor’s definition of professional extended to women wearing feather boas and stiletto heels. However, painting and wallpapering provided a fun distraction from my neighbors’ noisy activities, that on occasion permeated the walls, as I faced new challenges of interior decorating.