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NWI Parent
NWI Parent

Mr. Smooth

September 9th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

Some people are just naturally suave. They glide when they walk. They know exactly how to dress, how to interact with people, and how to behave in every situation. And some folks are more like the people in the Liberty Mutual commercials–the ones that open their doors to oncoming traffic, or drive into their garage with the bikes still on the bike rack.

I’m in that second group.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had my car door torn off by oncoming traffic, or smashed a hole into my garage with a bike rack, but every time I see those commercials I don’t laugh. I think: “That could totally happen to me.”

As I get older, it seems more and more likely. I’ve never exactly been Mr. Smooth, but lately I’ve really turned it up a notch. There are days my brain doesn’t seem to have any connection to my hands. The simplest tasks turn into a sitcom.

I’m thankful that no one can see me attempting to make coffee in the morning. I know it’s early and all, but getting the coffee grounds into the coffee filter has suddenly become the most challenging task imaginable. I give the entire kitchen a coffee-grounds bath at least twice a week.

The other day I was making a Chinese stir fry with chicken thighs, and I usually separate some of the chicken for my kids before I add the sauce (because heaven forbid there’s any flavor on it). While I was in the process of moving the chicken from the pan to the bowl, a very easy ‘Point A to Point B’ transfer, point B suddenly wasn’t quite where I thought it was. I completely missed the bowl. I mean, I just whiffed. The chicken went right onto the floor.

I’ve never seen a happier dog in my life.

I’ll grant you things like this seem to happen most often when I’m in a hurry, and with three over-scheduled boys in the house that’s quite often, but I did something a couple of days ago that made me seriously question my competency.

I was making a frozen pizza–the simplest task imaginable. All I had to do was set the temperature of the oven, unwrap the frozen pizza, stick the pizza into the oven, and set the timer. It’s almost not possible to screw up this incredibly easy assignment.

When the pizza was done, I pulled it out of the oven, but I apparently did it a little too quickly. I’ve never seen this happen before. I guess I used a little too much force, because the entire top cheese layer of the pizza went flying across the kitchen. Not the whole pizza. Just the layer of cheese.

It sailed a good five feet in the air, and plopped onto the kitchen floor.

I was holding a round piece of dough with some sauce on it, and the floor was holding the only part of the pizza that my children will eat.

The “I Love Lucy” staff writers would have rejected this scene as too slapsticky.

The only other living being in the kitchen with me was the dog, and even she looked up at me, and said “you’re kidding, right?” with her eyes. She didn’t make a mad rush for the cheese. She just took in the moment, and waited for me to scream an obscenity of some kind.

The old me would have done that. The new me has adjusted to the new reality.

Before even addressing the baked cheese chunk on the floor, I simply reached into the refrigerator, pulled out a bag of shredded cheese, spread it onto the cheeseless pizza dough, and stuck it back into the oven.


The boys never noticed the difference, the dog got a bonus dinner of gritty kitchen floor cheese, and the hapless daddy went on the internet to investigate the cost of installing security cameras in the kitchen.

The least I can do is get the next inevitable blunder on film for the youngsters on YouTube.

Within a year or two it may the only thing I’m capable of contributing to society.

Filed under: parent.

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