I was happily trucking along to the library during lunch hour last Monday. After a half day Friday, I felt refreshed, focused, and productive. Just as my brain said “We should do half days more often,” I felt my boot shift on rain slicked stone stairs. Next thing I know my handbag was airborne, and I was on my ass – legs askew, hat crooked, umbrella at the bottom of the staircase, rain soaking into my pantyhose. A bespectacled young man asks, “Are you okay?” All I could think to reply through the adrenaline and pain was “Well, let me straighten my hat first!”

I discovered the next morning that my ankle (and talus!) was broken.

Small avulsion fractures are treated like a bad ankle sprain. My look for the next week or so will be complimented by a walking cast; the clompy black Darth Vader type things so many Midwestern femmes with the hubris to wear heels sport come winter. I’ve been instructed to stay off it as much as possible. This is difficult because I’m a professional putterer, as well as the guardian of domestic hygiene. It’s also a challenge because the things we eat during the week are all quick recipes from my mental files.

Professor X does cook, but, like many households, he is not the cook. As of the incident, our larder was filled with ingredients from my aforementioned mental files. His mental recipes don’t include kale or asparagus, and any flesh other than chicken makes him nervous. Thankfully, he’s far more committed to keeping me horizontal than I am, so he took up the gauntlet.

Our usual routine when he cooks is that I sit in a chair at the table or otherwise make myself available for his few questions on doneness in a repertoire familiar to him. Is the chicken cooked through? Are the masalas burned? I can jump up and visually inspect the element in question, or even chip in if things spiral out of control. With this past week’s arrangement, he was on his own in a wilderness of olives, red meat, and green veg.

I initially thought that dictating “how to” would be simple enough. Take out the steak. Salt and pepper. Set water to boil for the potatoes. However, once the meal reached its critical point of coming together at the end, I found that I couldn’t give clear instructions to multitask. And, after all these years of burning bacon and parathas, our long dormant smoke detector woke up.

beeep beeep beeep beeep

“Okay now flip the steak and turn off the heat before putting some butter in the pot. Oh sorry, the potato pot, not the steak skillet.”

beeep beeep beeep beeep

“The potatoes need to go in before they cool so the butter melts and the steak should have rested enough so take it out of the skillet so it doesn’t burn”

While Professor X went to take care of the smoke alarm, I was impotent to do anything …for about 30 seconds. The professional putterer in my head commanded me to keep a stiff upper lip and rush into the fray. Dinner was falling apart! Of course it wasn’t, and I ended up soaking his pack of smokes with boiled potato water due to my new center of gravity. When Professor X returned a minute later, he sent me promptly back to the couch, where I stayed until food was served.

We have approximately one more week of this. Perhaps we should stock up on Trader Joe’s frozen lest I drive him insane.