Big Billy – Ya big knob

Minnie’s birthday’s comin’ up next week and I figured I’d get everybody together and have a little party for her. Notice how I said a “little” party, eh? Because last time I tried to have a party for her, things got a bit out of hand.

This was a few years ago now and it was one of them milestone birthdays where Minnie Big BIllyturned *cough, cough* years old (I can’t tell yis, but it ended in a zero). And since I’m a man, I figured all ya had to do to throw a birthday party was tell people – Hey, we’re havin’ a birthday party and yis are all invited!

But of course, as soon as I told Joan, she asked, What are ya doin’ for food?

Food? I said. (And this is where I proved I’m a man.) Nothin’ to worry about there, I told her. I got a big slab birthday cake ordered from the bakery, so there’ll be enough cake for everybody.

Is that it? she said

And cheezies? I said.

Don’t worry about a thing, she said. I’ll get all the ladies in club to make sandwiches and squares. We’ll give her some party! Joan said.

Of course, I didn’t really think nothin’ of it until the day of the party. That morning while Minnie was on her way over to pick Joan up so they could go get groceries together the way they always do, Joan calls me.

OK! she says. It’s all set!

And she ran through a whole list of women’s name I never heard of and told me who was bringin’ what. Forget a couple of sandwiches and squares – she went on about lasagna and cabbage rolls and two kinds of salad, and I was startin’ to get hungry just hearin’ about it.
Then she really struck some fear into me.

I made the lasagna, she said. So I’ll come over a bit early and we’ll put it in the oven to keep it warm.

I hung up and looked at the stove. It was such a mess, it shoulda had some of that yellow crime scene tape on it or somethin’. What happened was, I just finished eatin’ a big breakfast I made for myself – three fried eggs and a package of bacon. Minnie’s always after me to stop eatin’ so much bacon, but can I help it if it’s delicious?

Anyways, whenever I make bacon in our little fryin’ pan, the grease splashes everywhere. I’m tellin’ ya, for about a week after I make bacon, you find splotches of grease on the side of the toaster, the fridge door, on the window behind the sink – just about everywheres. But of course, the place that gets it worst is the stove itself. Especially that back part with the dials and the clock and salt and pepper shakers shaped like cows.

One thing yis might not know about Minnie – for some reason, she gets right mortified at the idea of anybody thinkin’ she got a dirty stove. You could call her any name in the book and it would roll right off her back, but accuse her of havin’ a dirty stove and hits a great big nerve.

I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that I don’t got much experience cleanin’ the stove. But I decided to go all out for Minnie’s party, and I started scrapin’ the grease off of everything. I rooted around under the sink and found a spray can of oven cleaner. It said ya just spray it in there and leave it and it practically cleans itself. Right on! I said, and sprayed it in there.

The top part was in bad shape, and I ended up takin’ all the dials off to clean under them and then I put some soapy water in the sink and washed each knob individually and stuck them back on.

Joan kept Minnie out for the afternoon so we could surprise her and people kept showin’ up. Her friend Elaine had a big thing of chicken wings, and somebody else had cabbage rolls and it all had to go in an oven. So I ended up goin’ to two of the neighbours’ houses and invitin’ them to the party just so we could use their stoves to keep everything warm.

Somewhere in all the excitement, I noticed the oven wasn’t on. The dial said it was on, but there was no heat comin’ from it. I started fiddlin’ with the dials, but it made no sense. If I turned the front burner on, the broiler came on. If I turned the oven to 450, the back burner under the tea pot came on. It was the weirdest thing.

I quietly hauled Minnie’s brother Cyril aside, since he does some electrical work, and the two of us stood there scratchin’ our heads tryin’ to figure out what was goin’ on.

Maybe there’s a short or somethin’, he said, but that doesn’t explain why the signals are all crossed up.

He snuck out to the baby barn to get some tools to take a look at it, when Elaine came along and asked if there was somethin’ wrong with the stove.

Oh, Cyril’s gonna have it fixed in no time, I said.

That’s funny, she said. My stove is exactly the same, except the oven and burner dials are reversed.

By the time Cyril came back in, I realized the stove was fine – I just put all the knobs back in the wrong places after I cleaned them.

We finally got the oven goin’ and after a few minutes, there was a funny smell and everybody’s eyes were burnin’. Joan came in with Minnie and we were all chokin’, and barely coughed out a “Surprise!”

Long story short, you’re supposed to turn the oven on after you spray that oven cleaner.

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