Tonight will be Popcorn Movie Night. Maybe.
["By Betty Crocker. By golly!"]
The first gift I opened on Christmas Day was the last thing I expected.
Sweets should know by now I'm not good with things that come with more than two instructions. I prefer 'plug and play' items, or 'put on and wear', 'open and eat'. I especially like topical books. 'Turn cover, read.'
But for her sake I persevered, got through 15 pages of fine print and tonight will surely be a fine movie night accompanied by freshly buttered and salted popcorn in a Betty Crocker Movie Nite serving bowl.
I generally scorn instruction booklets because most begin and end with instructions so obvious and demeaning they make grown men cry. And before opening the popper booklet I knew it was going to be more of the same. First thing I saw on the cover made me wince.
["It's all these things, maybe more"]
What's on the cover? 'Movie Nite', followed by 'CINEMA STYLE'. Ms. Crocker needs to say things twice to me? I wouldn't catch the theme otherwise? I also read 'household use only'. Well, I thought, there goes my fun at the beach next summer, eh? And there goes my idea to loan this little thing to the Hyland Theatre on Wharncliffe whenever their industrial popcorn unit breaks down.
I shook my head, turned the page and waded into the instructions and safeguards. Some made me laugh. Some made me cry. One was totally unexpected and another presented me with the ultimate challenge.
["Hey kids, what shouldn't we touch?"]
How is one supposed to feel when the first safety precaution or instruction is to read all instructions?
I felt someone was trying to put me back a grade after I'd already started their assignment. And about number 2. I know I shouldn't touch hot surfaces but... how do I know which surfaces are hot?
The handles and knobs are likely not too hot because I'm told to hold them, though a later diagram recommends I use oven mitts. Mitts = hot surface, in my mind. I know the cover gets hot when corn is a-poppin' because Betty Crocker says so. Betty, thanks for the heads up, I say. But what about the bottom half where the heating unit is installed? I bet the bottom will get even hotter than the cover and it isn't mentioned at all. Should I touch it when in use to find out? Or call my lawyer now?
["This safeguard is a really good one. Yes, really."]
Shortly thereafter I found an opportunity to laugh. The inclusion of number 7, a warning to avoid 'accessory attachments', was likely prompted by a letter much like the following:
Dear Mrs. Crocker. I wanted to make popcorn from
the comfort of my Lazy-Boy 'cause I couldn't get 'er
done during commercials, and I was missing part of
my show, so I took a long wooden pole (it was out
in the shed) that reached to the kitchen counter and
stuck it on your popper with duck tape but on the very
first try the heat melted the tape and I wrecked the rug,
what with the hot butter you mention in your guide.
So I need you to buy me a new carpet. And some new
wood floor boards. Mine got stained by your butter too.
I had been thinking about hanging the popper from the ceiling with a nylon cord, so it would be right over the spot I lay my head on the couch, but I pitched that notion after reading number 7.
Where the idea for the 10th safeguard came from - a letter or hot flash? - I'm not sure, but I found it funny, in a 'who would ever do this?' sort of way: 10. Do not place (popper) on or near a hot gas or electric burner, or in a heated oven.
In other words, the CINEMA-STYLE unit cannot survive being cooked inside a convectional or gas oven. And wood burning stove? Probably not. That being said, however, some buyers of the Betty Crocker popcorn popper will say,"What's a guy to do when it doesn't heat up by itself and I can't use my oven?"
I say, use the microwave*.
The second last precaution did not make me laugh or cry. Initially I felt it was helpful...
["Helpful, and unexpected. Do I own oven mitts?"]
... Helpful, because most people would want to know when they're handling residual materials that could cause severe burns and prevent them from using their hands for a week or more. As well, I wasn't expecting that my popcorn popper would force me to call an ambulance moments before Chicago Fire - Sweets' favourite show - hits the screen. I mean, if I turn it the wrong way, there goes movie nite, eh?
All in all, however, as I went along I began to feel that I would eventually manage - quite expertly; I go back a ways - the popcorn popping process as Betty Crocker envisions it: Buy kernels, add vegetable oil and heat. However, she threw me a curve in the ninth. Get this.
["Divide 1 and 1/2 Tbs by 6? WTHeck?"]
I'm now on my third try. My gobs of butter are not equal. The Butter Reservoir is getting loaded with little, medium, big and bigger bits of butter. And I'm running low on supplies.
No doubt I'll have a system perfected by Friday, but Sweets says our movie starts at seven. It's enough to make a grown man cry.
Photos by GH
* What are the odds that someone will put the whole popper into a microwave? Keep in mind Earth's population now exceeds 7 billion.
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