Always read the directions

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
One of the most common misconceptions in life is that men don't read directions.
It's true – most of the time, but what about women? Do they really read directions? And if so, do they read them all the time?
Men are always being criticized for attempting to be macho, honey doers, while cutting corners to impress their significant other. The "men don't read directions" accusations are made simply because occasionally there are a few extra screws and a couple of washers left after putting together a piece of furniture or because a project has to be redone.
After years of attempting to include women in this simple concept, I've succeeded.
My wife, Jennifer, helped to answer this simple argument between men and women on New Year's Day, after I finished preparing breakfast for my family that was visiting from Birmingham for the holiday.
I woke up early that morning to cook my favorite holiday breakfast – monkey bread. It's a simple breakfast consisting of biscuits, cinnamon and sugar and a glazing prepared by melting a stick of butter and a cup of brown sugar together. My mother introduced monkey bread to me in my younger years one Christmas morning and since, I've always tried to include it in my holiday traditions.
Monkey bread is prepared in a bunt pan. You place cut up pieces of biscuits covered in cinnamon and sugar around the pan until four packages of biscuits have been used. You then pour the glazing over top and bake it for 25 minutes. Talk about simple.
New Years was my first attempt in making the sweet-toothed treat and fortunately it turned out great and was enjoyed by all. Unfortunately, I did not realize that using a bunt pan without a removable center makes cleanup a chore. In my case, it almost cost us our home.
While cooking, the glazing began to spread throughout the monkey bread and eventually began oozing out of the bottom. The only place for the glazing to go was the bottom of the stove. This did not alarm me though and I allowed the cooking to finish.
Later in the day, Jennifer began cooking fish sticks for my seven-year-old nephew, Caleb, when she discovered the mess. The stove began smoking, but she was able to finish the meal and turn the oven off.
This chef was caught cutting corners and it couldn't be denied. Evidence of the brown sugar glaze was clearly the culprit. Thankfully Jennifer was not angry. I promised to clean it out once the oven cooled down and she accepted. She remembered – our oven is self-cleaning.
She told me not to worry about it and with the click of a button, the doors to the oven locked and the oven began heating up to scorching temperatures. Self-cleaning ovens use extreme temperatures to "burn off" spills leftover from baking. In our case, the oven nearly burned down the house because Jennifer didn't read the directions.
Yes, I said it. My wife, a woman, didn't read directions and I'm confident there are several more to join her. I may sleep in the oven tonight, but someone's got to stand up for us men.
After about an hour of the oven being in self-cleaning mode, my sister, Jennifer, began screaming from the kitchen that there was an emergency. My wife and I knew that it was a bit smoky in the house, but did not think twice about the oven when she yelled for help. To our surprise, the oven was on fire.
I quickly called my brother-in-law, Jimmy, into the kitchen and we began debating on what we should do, while the fire continued to get bigger. I couldn't access the oven to extinguish the fire because the doors remained locked. I then had a bright idea – unplug it, but the doors remained locked.
Just as Jimmy and I were in position to pick the stove up and toss it into the front yard, the door finally unlocked. I was then able to toss some baking soda on the fire to put it out.
After the smoke literally cleared, I was able to get a close look at the oven. When I opened the door to see if there was any damage, a warning label caught my eye. I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was something like this, "Remove all excess spillage from the bottom of the oven before self-cleaning to prevent fires."
It was proof – sometimes women don't read directions.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123.

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