Thursday, February 09, 2006

The gas man cometh

Today when I came home there was a toolbox by the side of the house where I usually park my bicycle. I gathered from this that the gas man had come, to check the appliances and to change the meter. He left a note yesterday saying that he'd come when we were out, and he would be returning.

I was right. The Man opened the door, followed closely by the gas man, and asked,

"How do you turn on the oven? We can't turn on the oven! The levers won't move!"

"The oven?" I said. We have a very old gas oven. "Open the door and hold both levers down, then close the door still holding the levers down, count to ten, and release the top lever. The fan will start, but wait for the click and if it doesn't go WHOOMPH! put the bottom lever up and do it again."

"Door open?" he said.

"Door open?" said the gas man. They both laughed.

"Yes. Open the door and then hold down the levers and then close the door and then... "

"Can you show us?"

I went through to the kitchen, and the gas man watched, AWED, as The Man followed my instructions. First we forgot to turn the gas on, but once we'd done that we tried again. There was the roaring sound of the fan and gas hissing and then *click* - just as I noticed that I'd forgotten the OTHER preliminary two steps. We hadn't set the timer and temperature knobs. Of course nothing happened.

I turned the two knobs, put the lever back up and opened the door to try again. The Man sniffed.

"I can smell gas," he said, looking alarmed.

"Don't worry," I said. "It's always like that. And it never starts the first time anyway."

"Isn't it dangerous?" he asked.

"No, of course not," I said. Then I added, "But I always stand back just in case."

This time I did it myself. I held the lever down, closed the door, counted to ten, released the top lever, and jumped back dramatically. The gas man took a step back by the door, looking a little nervous, and The Man held a chair up to shield himself from the potential explosion.

We waited.

"Click ... WHOOMPH!" said the oven as the gas ignited. Then it settled down to its busy hum.

"It works!" said the gas man, and laughed and laughed and laughed, from relief, probably.

It was an extremely misleading incident, because the gas man probably thinks that The Man can't find his way around a kitchen. It is true that he never uses the oven. However, the last time I used it was ... actually, I can't remember the last time I used it. I just happen to know how to turn it on, that's all. It's an excellent oven, though. It heats up very quickly, and cooks fast and evenly. I'm sure if either of us liked baking we'd be very fond of it.

As it is, we find it just a little intimidating. When something is that complicated to get started, you expect it to do something more exciting than just bake cookies. You expect LIFT OFF.


Radioactive Jam said...

Baking cookies can be pretty exciting. Not as good as *eating* them, but still.

Baked. Cookies. See? I'm excited. Okay no, you can't "see" of course but trust me. Especially if the recipe calls for white chocolate.

Sorry: lunchtime, no cookies. Makes me... edgy. :-)

The Editter said...

I'd be too terrified to ever use that oven!

naridu said...

We had an oven similarly tricky when I was younger, my mum one day didn't manage to jump back quickly enough though and the gas flame leapt up singing the hairs on her arms and her eyebrows.

Respect the gas oven.

kenju said...

Now I am REALLY glad that my oven is electric!

BobCiz said...

A great excuse for eating out. Knowing how difficult that oven can be, The Man won't need much persauding to take you out.

Badaunt said...

Actually The Man is a far better cook than I am, and cooks more often than I do. He just doesn't use the oven. The type of cooking he does doesn't require it.

I suspect that many (if not most) Japanese homes don't even have an oven. Ovens are not necessary for Japanese food.

doris said...

LOL I loved the story of the oven! Imagining The Man standing under the cover of a chair and the gas man in fear and trepidation. AND he asking YOU if it is safe?!

Pkchukiss said...

Your description reminds me of those Disney cartoons where they have cartoon incinerators, with razor-sharp teeth for doors, and a raging fire behind those huge gaping teeth.

... But I think they all serve the same purpose: nicely baked cakes.