Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Watched Pot Doesn't Boil

How many times have you heard this "old-wives tale" masquerading as a proverb? The other day I decided to make dinner for my girlfriend and her daughter. Actually, no one was making a move to make dinner, so I started it. It was a lazy Sunday, and all of us were working on puzzles of some sort. So I put my logic puzzle down, which was kicking my ass, and I started to make my famous "Pasta Putineverything." After making the sauce, I realized that I needed to cook the pasta. So I put the sauce on simmer and fixed up a big pot of water in which to boil the pasta.

Caught daydreaming, watching the pot, my girlfriend said, "A watched pot doesn't boil!"

This snapped me back to the present, and I said, "That's an old wives tale. Water does NOT obey the laws of optical illusion; or that of old bags sitting around making up silly sayings so that people can spout them, when they have nothing better to say, throughout the ages. Water obeys the laws of thermodynamics, and the third law of thermodynamics states: 'Watched pots boil, if sufficiently heated to do so, whether they are being watched by human eyes or not!' This less known law is immutable."

She snickered and scoffed at my pseudo-intellectual comment. "A watched pot does NOT boil! Old wives of yore could NOT be wrong." she came back.

What could I say because I'll be damned if I have ever been able to catch that cursed pot start boiling. Not for a want of trying. Several times I have tried to disprove this aphorism by watching the pot diligently, and I have always come up empty handed in the catching-the-water-boiling arena. But I never took my eyes off of this pot in question.

"I'm hungry. Could you please stop watching the pot so that it can boil?" asked my girlfriend almost too sweetly.

I took it as a challenge! "You'll see, I'm going to watch this pot to prove to you that a watched pot will boil."

She looked at her daughter and said, "Well, you want to order pizza tonight?"

"It will boil, damn it!" I said a little too vehemently.

"All right Einstein. Just calm down," she said. "We'll wait."

"Forever?" asked her daughter.

The challenge had become personal, and my resolve strengthened to the level of tempered titanium steel. However, standing at the hot stove, a nice cool beer sounded nice. Surely the water would not start boiling before I could twist the cap off an ice-cold beer. So I went for it: getting the beer and twisting the cap in a mere fifteen seconds. My actions were smooth and deliberate. I wouldn't want the girls to think that I must hurry to prove my point. Just then the cat started to mew and want some loving, so I reached down to scratch her neck. I accidentally kicked one of her play balls and off she went. She slid head first into the door that leads to the garage, which made me laugh.

"Mark? Do you know a member of the Rolling Stones that rhymes with "Sick Bagger"? the daughter asked, needing help on her puzzle.

So being the good Step-dude that I am, I said, "Yeah, I think that would be Dick Slagger. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's it."

"Thanks," she chirped. The puzzle, a rhyming puzzle, had several rock-n-roll groups from the 1960's that she just couldn't get, and since my girlfriend was too busy with the Nintendo DS and the Soduko puzzle program on it to pay attention to my fun, I gave the cute little cherub the other answers.

"Let's see, there was "Bingo Barr" from the Beatles. I think that must be 'Dingo Farr.'" And of course who could forget "Mavey Stones" from the Monkey's.

Just then my girlfriend finished her Soduko puzzle at "jet speed," so there were kisses and hugs of congratulations to exchange for that, at which time my girlfriend was sure to remind me that I had only attained "car speed." Well, who's competitive? Not me. (Note the self-denial.)

I started back over to the pot, and then recalled my previous resolve to catch the pot starting to boil, so I quickened my pace hoping that the girlfriend would not notice. When I reached to pot, I observed the water jumping and bubbling like a drunken leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day. Foiled again. One would think that I have Attention Deficit Disorder. Well, I hoped that the whole pot boiling incident would just be forgotten, so I poured the pasta into the pot.

"Did the watched pot boil?" asked my girlfriend coyly.

"Yep. Yes, it sure did," I lied.

"Did you witness this phenomenon?"

"Y, y, yes, yes, I did. I saw it."

"You watched it start to boil?"

"Yes, of course, I did. Abso...posi...tutely. Yes sirrie."

"Really? Is it boiling real fast, now?" she persisted. I wondered why she couldn't just drop it.


"My that was fast. Are you sure you saw the water start to boil?"

"Why...ya, y, yes, I'm sure that I saw it start to boil."

"That's impossible!"

"No it isn't...why would you say...of, of, course it's possible. Part of the third law of Thermodynamics, the part I left out earlier, is that the process happens very quickly at a certain temperature, and, just did."

"The first law of reality states that the pasta would have cooled the water down; therefore, you ain't tellin' the truth."

"Well...I can't believe that you would defame my scientific character in this way. A watched pot boils, a... an... and I just witnessed it in the name of all the great scientists of the world. So there! Your precious old wives tale has been debunked!"

"Liar," she muttered under her breath trying to disguise it in a cough.

"Okay, okay, okay! All right, already! I didn't see the pot boil, Ms. Sherlock Holmes. Your powers of deduction simply amaze me." Then, I looked at the child, and said, "And it's Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr from the Beatles, and Davy Jones of the Monkeys."

"Whatever!" they both chimed.

From now on, I promise I won't lie in order to prove old battleaxes’ myths untrue, but I can't promise to hold to the scientific method. And I certainly won't promise not to mess with the kid. What were these old hags trying to say, anyways? Perhaps, what they were really trying to say is, "Don't you have anything better to do than stand there and watch the pot boil?! The dirt floor needs sweeping, the dishes need to be done, the clothes folded, and you're watching a pot! Lazy slacker." I’ll prove those old metaphor-slinging tarts wrong, yet. Though, I must admit the pasta tasted divine.


Anonymous Pygmalion's Wife said...

Um, is the picture really the pasta that YOU made? Because I've always wondered who has those nifty square-y bowls and utensils, and shaves the cheese onto the top in real life, and if it's YOU then I have some questions for you (like how you fold the fitted sheets so that they are nice and square and flat, and what you do with all of the guest bathroom soaps once their nice sharp brand imprints are marred by a few dirty pairs of hands). Also, you're like, the third man ever to comment on my blog so I'm curious about how you found me (and if the answer was a google search on "masturbating into hair blowjob mommy" then tell me lies, 'k?) and what makes you read the thing.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

No, the Pasta Puttanesca in the pretty little square bowl is not a creation of mine. I got the picture off the internet. It looks much better than my creation. My creation looked more like pasta Pukenesca, but it tasted great. I did not find your site with a search containing any of those words, but now you have piqued my curiosity...I found your site on Dooce. I read your site because it is an honest, funny, and heartrending account of a young women (you) faced with life's harrowing ordeals. And I would like people to read my blog, and if they like it, great; and if they don't, I'd like to know why.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Merry Mama said...

Okay, Mark, now you've got one other devoted reader here. Yah, I, too want to know why people don't read me. If it's because I don't talk about sex, well, uhm Hello? I have six kids. I think I have some experience. Just like writers try not to use up their words on people (saving them for paper) well, I think that line of thought applies to the dirty talk. But, whatever. Your answer to Mrs. Pyg made me laugh and I didn't get to read the full story, but it seemed hilarious, like something I've been through with a few of my six kids.
Mrs. Pyg doesn't read me, or at least doesn't comment, and that's okay with me because, you know, my words just don't speak to her. It's all about finding your audience, and you are mine for the moment, but I'd better let you go before I use up all my blogging words and force you to hit the delet button. Amen.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thanks, mom. What's for dinner tonight?

12:37 PM  
Blogger Merry Mama said...

It's pizza nite. That means I don't get to cook. (Get to- see how I phrased that?) Actually, it's the hubs and mine kitchen nite and since I never do my part, he doesn't want to clean up a big mess, so he wants to just do the regular Friday frozen mushroom/spinach pizza, which is fine by me. More time for blogging and swimming.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Merry Mama said...

No, Mark, they are the baby's. And, uh, I thought I'd mention that the only reason I endorse nudity is because of my massive laundry pile.

6:18 PM  

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