Last Saturday, I’d promised to bake homemade baguettes. This may sound like a bigger promise, but really, it’s mixing flour, water, and yeast, and the largest obligation involved is the time spent waiting for the dough to rise. I could handle that, though it led to another promise: I’d clean the living room while waiting.
This baking was mostly something I told myself I’d do, mind you, but I’d said it out loud to a few people (Jason, my mother) so therefore I was obligated to follow through. I kneaded the dough, let it sit, started dusting the end tables next to the couch, returned to the kitchen to punch down the dough, and moved to preheat the oven. Here is where I realized the folly of my actions.
It was close to 90 degrees by 10:00 a.m. that day. Now I was going to crank up the heat.
But a promise is a promise. I turned the dial to 450 degrees and retreated outside to cool off.
Once the dough had rested sufficiently, I loaded the bread into the oven, then looked around the kitchen. If I opened the window over the sink, and the door leading to the side deck, maybe I could create a cross-breeze to cool the room (and house) down. I tried it, then returned to the living room to sweep and wash the floor.
I’d forgotten about the bread in my heatstroke-inducing cleaning frenzy, so when the timer went off, I was pleasantly surprised. Returning to the kitchen, the first thing that hit me was a wall of heat so thick it singed off my eyebrows. The second thing I noticed was the hornets. Apparently, they’d built a nest in the window, between screen and glass, and when I’d opened it, I’d given them free access to the entire house. They’d set up shop under the cabinet above the stove, and were busy building a new nest that already hung down low enough to just touch the top of the back burner.
I had three choices: I could grab the hornet spray in the basement and try to get close enough to soak the hive without getting stung; I could turn the burner on and hope hornets’ nests were flammable; I could move, leaving no forwarding address.
But the bread. I’d promised to make that bread, and I was so close to being done!
Armed with the spray from the basement, I stepped back into the kitchen. With a war cry, I shot an arc of poison at the nest, then let my aim dip as I tried to shoot down some of the little bastards midair. The spray had no effect, except to make them buzz louder. Now they were mad. I checked the label. I’d grabbed the ant and spider killer, which clearly had zero effect on flying, stinging insects. Crap. I made a mad dash for the oven, ignited the stovetop burner, and backed away.
Ant spray, it turns out, is highly flammable. The hornet’s nest exploded in a ball of flame, as did my cabinets. The hornets I’d soaked midflight also exploded, their wobbly flight paths taking sharp turns into things like the kitchen curtains and the garbage can. Soon, the whole kitchen was ablaze. I crawled to the cabinet under the sink, retrieved the fire extinguisher, and once I was sure all the hornets were good and dead, I put the fire out. The stove and cabinets were a smoldering pile of blackened soot. A moment of swelling pride washed over me (and some extinguisher foam). The stinging demons were dead, and now, I could relax and enjoy a slice of fresh-baked bread.
When I pulled the loaves out of the oven, they resembled charcoal bricks. (That’s not quite accurate: more like charcoal baguettes.) They were hard as bricks, however, and completely useless. I stepped back out on the side porch and threw the steaming blackened loaves into the bushes.
Perhaps you think I’m upset: after all, my kitchen now needs remodeling, the hornets in the window nest are still alive and well, and my bread was ruined. You’re missing the point. I said I’d bake bread, and by golly, I followed through on that promise.
So to all you who criticize the big-dreamers-little-doers out there, I’d advise you to knock it off. Imagine what would happen if they actually followed through?