Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"Striving to better, oft we mar what's well."
We were searching for lunch. Spouse and I were famished, we were passing through the area and there was not a moment to be spared searching for a restaurant. We found a supermarket, one of appropriate quality for two hungry souls willing to forsake dining at a restaurant in order to eat sooner.
It happened several years ago but I remember how we followed the aroma of fresh, homemade soup until we found four varieties contained inside enormous metal cauldrons.
Customers were to serve themselves, so Spouse prised a lid from one of the steaming pots and filled the largest paper container with our choice of tomato soup. Judging by the weight, we were certain that one portion would be sufficient for both of us.
We intended to sit at a little cafeteria next to the soup station. Spouse clutched the cup that held our lunch as he gingerly placed the cover back onto the main soup receptacle.
It was like molten metal, and wet from the steam, so it was no wonder that Spouse's fingers slipped ever so slightly in attempts to put the lid on properly. It landed on the pot but it did not sit correctly and left a gap, so that air or insects or any foreign objects could get inside the soup and make life miserable for the next unfortunate customer.
That was my thought as I reached out- after all, I had two free hands- and gripped the edge of the lid with my fingers, hoping to draw the lid perfectly over the opening.
It was still like molten metal and still wet from the steam and it caused me a degree of pain so that I was forced to drop the lid from a height of some inches.
The margin had widened and the lid was more askew than before.
Whatever creatures might have been able to get in a moment earlier now could bring their whole family along. Spouse urged that we let it go, that it was only a question of millimetres and that we ought to eat our lunch while it was hot.
I was having none of that and I took hold of the lid once more, with a hint of fury, with the full intention of setting that lid on tightly.
It was still like molten metal, yes, and still wet from the steam and it emitted its own rays of fury toward my injured digits. When I dropped the lid again I saw that Spouse had probably been right to suggest when he did that we give up- for now the cover was more off than on, a half moon segment of the lid teetering over the edge of the pot, resembling some sort of dreadful, off-kilter eclipse.
Spouse tried to tell me to leave it alone, that we ought to get out of there, but his words were muffled by laughter which rattled the cup he still held.
Spouse found it hysterical but I was responsible for the matter: I could not stroll away leaving the soup urn exposed.
I gave Spouse a glare of steely determination and made a final effort to right the wrong I had done.
The molten lid with its beads of steam fell into the soup pot and sank altogether before a curved edge mercifully popped up, gasping for breath and demanding to be rescued.
I looked all about me, but it seemed nobody had witnessed the sight.
"I have to," I said to Spouse when his aghast expression indicated he suspected what I would do next. By that time I had joined in with Spouse's waves of hysterics and I could hardly see because my eyes were overflowing with water.
Perhaps due to the laughter, my mind was on a level where pain was no longer an obstacle, and I plunged my hand into the pot, caught the bit of metal I could see, extracted the lid from the murky depths and and flung it over the vessel where it landed with a splatter and dribbled tomato soup down the sides.
"Let's run now," I suggested to Spouse, and we ran. We paid for our soup and ran past the cafeteria and across the parking lot and straight to our car where we huddled and hid and ate tomato soup and wished to be invisible when the next customer approached the soup counter, reeled backwards in disgust and wondered what sort of disaster had taken place.
I had only wanted it to be right but I got it all wrong.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 11:46 AM