#TBT Pay Attention! Or why Vicky had no eyebrows for a while…

So, I am going to share another cooking fail.

When I was in 7th grade, and my sister, Mindy, was in 6th grade, our parents were both working.

Mom worked first shift, Dad worked second shift. Sometimes Dad would be home just as we got home, and he’d leave after we got in the house. Dad did NOT do any cooking. He would make coffee (which we all thought was disgusting, we all drank tea.) and he would, occasionally, heat up a can of corned beef hash or ravioli. He might have made toast. I don’t remember him doing much cooking.

This meant that when we got home from school, we had to take care of ourselves. We had to make our own after-school snacks, sometimes even start dinner if Mom was running late from work, and we had to make sure we did our homework  Our brother Victor was in a live-in school, and our baby brother, Chris, was in Kindergarten and went to day-care after his half-day in school. Dad would pick him up and bring him home for us to watch until Mom got home.

Sometimes we would just make popcorn as an afternoon snack. Sometimes we would make grilled cheese sandwiches or peanut butter on graham crackers. Sometimes we would make BLT sandwiches.

We are all brilliant kids. We do our homework, we get it done, and then we move onto chores – and cartoons. We had basic cable, which meant we got some channels out of New York that showed Popeye, Mighty Mouse, and Bugs Bunny cartoons from 3 to 5, I think. My sister starts laundry, I put all my completed homework in my backpack, and I start on a snack – this time I decided to make BLT sandwiches. It’s January or February and there is snow outside. It’s about 4:30, and Mom will be home soon. I think I decided to do sandwiches and tomato soup.

Mom had a Revere Ware set of pots and pans. She had the big 12-inch skillet, with the lid, and it is in this skillet I am frying up the bacon. I have the flame a little too high, and I am not paying attention to the stove because cartoons are on. I also have a very bad habit – I leave the frying spatula IN the pan.

My sister is down in the cellar, swapping the laundry when I notice the smoke. I run into the kitchen and the bacon has turned very crispy and black and the whole pan is smoking. Now, I know this is going to be a grease fire, so I slap the lid on it. Which does NOTHING because I left the damn spatula in the pan, and that prevents the lid from completely enclosing the pan. As I pick up the pan to move it to the sink, the contents burst into flame.

“Fire! Mindy, FIRE!”

I am panicking. I am also on a linoleum floor, wearing thick thermal socks, and trying to get this flaming pan OUT of the house. I head to the kitchen door and take one hand off the pan to open the door. The pan tilts a little, and hot grease comes pouring out onto my toes. Not much, but enough to get my attention. I fling the door open, get the screen open, and throw the pan and its contents out into the snowbank.

My sister finally comes up from the basement with a basket of laundry.

“Why is it so smoky in here?”, she asks.

“Didn’t you hear me scream FIRE?”

“Is that what you said? I thought you were yelling at the TV”

I run my hand through my hair – and then I notice the smell and the crumbling bits that flake off.

“Ewwww – you burned your bangs!”

Just then Mom comes in.

“Why the hell is my good frying pan out in the snow – OH MY GOD VICKY WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYEBROWS?”

I ran my hand through my eyebrows and the singed hair fell. I went into the bathroom to look.

Nope. They are goners. Part of my bangs, most of my eyebrows, and the toe of one sock are completely gone. Thankfully no blisters on my toes at all.

Mom opened the windows to air the kitchen out, and I ended up scrubbing the pan to get rid of the burnt-on mess. We still had tomato soup, and we had grilled cheese to go with it.

To this day I don’t leave a spatula in the pan when I’m cooking bacon. I don’t leave a frying pan alone when I’m cooking.

I have my eyebrows.