"Your mouth's writin' checks your body can't cash."

"If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen" is a tired cliché that represents the idea of not getting involved in a situation that you cannot handle to its completion; for the most part, these situations involve high levels of stress or are physically demanding.

The key players:

In other words, when it comes to crunch-time in a tough situation, you need to be able to handle it. If you can't handle it, then you need to have backed out when you had the opportunity.

Mum related recently to me an incident that happened quite some years ago. She and her friend, M, were making pancakes one morning for breakfast. A pot of fat lay idly on the electric cooktop from the previous night's meal. M, working with unfamiliar equipment, placed Mum's kettle on the stove, reached over and flicked a switch, then settled back to await its boiling. As the pair busily made their pancakes, and no doubt chatted about whatever young women chat about, time slipped away. Ten minutes or so later, their attention was drawn hurriedly to the stove, where the pot of fat had been left happily heating until it finally combusted, and the flames were rapidly spreading from it.

In 1998, plus or minus a year, Mum was in the kitchen, preparing dinner. Corned beef, salad, and fresh chips we were to be having. I can recall this distinctly. Standing in the doorway, leaning against the bench, I glanced past Mum to the far side of the kitchen as something on the stove caught my eye. A pot of fat on the cooktop morphed into an evil-looking red fireball as I stood motionless for half a second. Then I calmly opened my mouth, "Mum, fire", and pointed. In a single step, she was at the stove; a flick of the wrist, and power was removed. The coil below the pot glowed red-hot regardless. "Martin!", she called in a quivering, high-pitched voice. A chair was pushed back in the office that was the next room. There was a clunk followed with heavy footsteps. Dad appeared, as if by some instinct, carrying a fire extinguisher. A white cloud billowed from his hand, and the inferno vanished like a genie coming out of a jar being played in reverse. We ended up having McDonalds for tea that night, and the stove was left U/S for the next week.

It was a standard-issue stove, it was 2003.
It was golden toasted sandwiches we were looking to see.
It was liquid propane powered, this worked well for me.
Everyone knew the ignition switches on these stoves had a habit of snapping off, but you could get spares for them, and they were supplied on a contract, yada yada yada. So Dad came home tonight to the news that our griller was non-operational. Being the sort to never give in easily, he produced a piezo igniter, and stepped to the corner of the kitchen. There was a hiss of escaping gas, and the odd clickety-ching of the igniter; an instant later, a mighty fwhooom. A blue fireball, roughly 100mm in diameter ejected from the griller, up Dad's arm, and onto his face. Suffice to say, the stove was replaced six months later.

And now, Tenty and I make pancakes in our own kitchens, forty kilometres and forty milliseconds apart.

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