From The Daniel Island News
Caught in My Own Mousetrap
By Dalton Williams
Sep 19, 2012 - 8:59:45 AM
“Sure, I’ll show you,” I eagerly offered, sliding off a kitchen bar stool and stepping, unbeknownst to me at the time, into far more than I had bargained for.
Mere minutes before, I had watched my lovely wife, Grace, unloading clean china and silverware from the dishwasher. As I sipped morning coffee, Grace deftly maneuvered plates and bowls back to their assigned spots. Her alacrity vanished, however, when she turned to the utensils. Holding an assorted wad of knives, forks and spoons in one hand, Grace methodically deposited them – one by one, with the other hand – back into the silverware drawer.
My ‘better mousetrap’ idea was an epiphany. There was a more efficient way...and being a fairly typical male, the logical next step was obvious. Tell her how to fix it!
“Hey, Honey,” I had proclaimed. “I know how to do that better.”
Grace set down the pile of unsorted utensils, allowing the freedom to slowly place her hands on her hips, then replied, “Really?”
My aunt, Toogie, stopped working on her Sudoku puzzle book and giggled, “This oughta be good.”
Standing amid Grace, the dishwasher and the utensil drawer, I scooped up a handful of knives and forks.
“Those have been washed!” Grace announced sternly, hands still on her hips.
“Stand back and give him more rope,” Toogie cackled. “I want to watch him hang himself.”
Grace retreated to the barstool I had occupied as she and Toogie peered across the kitchen counter toward me. Undaunted, I began my demonstration by placing a lone knife into an empty dishwasher compartment. Another knife followed the first one, then a third, and so on until I had dealt all the knives into one section of the dishwasher. Then I deposited the forks, in a similar manner, into another compartment. With a magician’s flair, I next held up both empty hands, palms facing Grace and Toogie.
“Behold,” I intoned, “how rapidly The Great Daltoni will now move this flock of forks and knives to the silverware drawer.”
My grand finale consisted of simply reaching into the dishwasher and pulling out all the knives in one hand and all the forks in the other and then depositing them en masse in their respective bays of the utensil drawer. Turning to the ladies, I smiled, rubbed my hands together, lifted them in the air and declared, “Voila!”
“Was that supposed to be a trick or a suggestion?” Grace scoffed.
Toogie shook her head slowly from side to side and then muttered, “Hey, Houdini. Get me another cup of coffee while I get my phone, and then do that again. I want to get it on video to show Brevard.”
After a pause, I ventured to inquire, “You do see my point, don’t you?”
“In a word,” Grace replied, “No.”
“A good magician doesn’t bore us with, I mean reveal, his tricks,” Toogie chortled. “Please keep it to yourself.”
Somewhat deflated now, I tried to recover.
“Here, let me try again,” I pleaded.
“Shucks!” Toogie growled.
I proceeded to explain that if one sorted the silverware going into the dishwasher, one then could easily and effortlessly unload it in batches.
“So, you have to sort them going in?” Grace queried.
“Exactly,” I replied, sensing she was seeing the light.
“Explain how that is different than sorting them on the way out?”
“Because they have to go in, you sort them as you do that.”
“They have to come out, too.”
“It’s different. It’s harder on the way out.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s the same.”
Exasperated, I turned to Toogie. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s bull pucky, but do that magic thing again. My phone is ready to record video.”
That evening Toogie’s gentleman friend, Brevard, joined us for dinner. After a brief (but welcomed by me) hiatus, he was back in the picture with my aunt. Brevard had been away for a while –a couple of months ago he had announced a solo around-the-world sailing trip, although rumors are that he ran aground somewhere off the coast of Hilton Head and then laid low for a spell. With the help of some downtown legal cronies, he had managed to have the Coast Guard records sealed.
Brevard’s wardrobe had obviously survived the supposed shipwreck. To me he looked as if he were on the way to a Junior League Tea, not a casual weeknight dinner with friends. He was donned in a dusty pink linen dinner jacket, summery lime green slacks, starched white shirt, and a perfectly matched pastel paisley ascot. The ladies cooed excessively over his ensemble.
I finally interrupted the adoration, inquiring, “How about a drink? I know I need one.”
“Never thought you’d ask, old boy,” his nibs gushed. “I’ll have one …what is that hearty favorite you usually imbibe?”
“A Perfect Manhattan?”
“Yes, yes, that’s it. A Perfect Manhattan,” Brevard waxed, adding, “but shaken, not stirred. Straight up. Ice cubes are so plebian.”
As Brevard and I retreated to the butler’s pantry to mix drinks, I overheard one of the ladies whisper, “He’s so sophisticated.”
Opening the liquor cabinet, I quickly found a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon, but didn’t see the vermouth.
“Grace,” I hollered over my shoulder, “Are we out of vermouth?”
Suddenly, Grace was next to me, as if she had been waiting around the corner.
“It’s there on the far right, Dear,” she announced.
Before I could correct the record that I always kept vermouth next to my bourbon (for ease in making Manhattans), Grace added. “Brevard, you might be interested in how efficiently Dalton stocks his liquor cabinet.”
“Note that everything is arranged alphabetically,” she continued sweeping her hand, a la Vanna White, across an array of bottles. “On the left here are the amaretto and bourbon while down to the far right are vermouth and vodka.”
I glared at Grace and Toogie, knowing this had been done on purpose, yet they both smiled back sweetly.
“Why, Dalton,” Brevard grinned, hand on my shoulder, “you are a regular Fredrick Winslow Taylor.”
When I didn’t answer, he felt compelled to amplify. “You know, Fredrick Taylor was the father of scientific management. Pioneered time and motion studies and industrial efficiency.”
“Why that fits Dalton to a tee,” Grace proclaimed gleefully.
“If you looked up Mr. Taylor in a dictionary,” Toogie chipped in, “I bet you’d see Dalton’s picture.”
After dinner and brandies (I had no trouble locating the brandy on the left side of the liquor cabinet), Brevard announced, “Miss Grace, this has truly been a culinary experience. May I help clear?”
“Oh, no need,” Grace answered, crisply. “Dalton is going to do the dishes. He has devised a new and improved scientific way.”
“Women adore a man who helps around the home,” Brevard proffered.
“We sure do,” Grace smirked, pinching my cheek. “He’s my little Fredrick Taylor.”
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