Greasy

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Around the middle of the week following creation, day ten or eleven, God created grease. He was by then bored with the whole idea of creating anything even remotely resembling his image, having already finished a freak book full of variations on that theme, so he went all radical on himself and produced something volatile and certain to goad even the pious into taking his name in vain.

Great big gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts resulted. Schmaltz traces its heritage to that latter day variation, too. So does my kitchen. So does yours. Imagine a substance that repels water, the freaking liquid of life. Oh, it also attracts lint and odd bits of cat fur, and dirt, and the occasional unfortunate bug carcass. Clearly, grease ain’t looking for an invite to my table, or should not be. He doesn’t need to beg or plead for an invitation, though, because I voluntarily escort him into my kitchen, shake him up a martini, then let him have his way with me.

He causes cholesterol, fer cripe’s sake, and pimples, and midriff bulge syndrome in both sexes. He’s the major cause of kitchen fires, too, and behind half of the hard feelings that routinely emerge around washing the dishes. Without him, dishes would essentially wash themselves. Your tie, and mine, would still look like new if not for that stain only cremation could remove. The Muse must pretreat each of her blouses to have any hope of removing the grease splatters she accumulates along her bust line. This sometimes even works.

Every bad guy in the history of the world so far had what? Greasy hair. Gunslinger to mobster, bank robber to pervert with the middle name of Wayne: each featured dripping waves of brilliantined hair, literally oozing evil onto the shoulders of basic decency. Sophistication seems gauged by relative greasiness. Crappy restaurants are what? Greasy spoons, in French: boui-boui (boo boo?). When the roads becomes dangerously slick, they are called greasy. Some even refer to immigrants as greasers. My grandfather pronounced it Greeezee.

My shopping list insists that I really need to buy a liter of olive oil today. A slightly higher class of the same old slick, some portion of that bottle will end up on the ceiling above the stove. There’s no escaping this. Some of it, only microscopic elements, really, will even adhere to the ceiling fan because steam rising as I sauté some sausages in a splash of the old Olaf will carry a few hitchhiking molecules of grease. The steam will just innocently evaporate, leaving his low-life indigent behind.

Were I more diligent, I’d wash the ceiling fan after every meal, but I’m not diligent at all. Perhaps due to a long term and close association with grease, I rarely even look up in the kitchen. I do not notice the insignificant increments accumulating. I never see the lint and cat fur conferring until around the time of their biennial convention or the week before we’re slated to move. Then, The Muse notices that everything above the cabinet tops on the stove side of the kitchen has turned into a chia pet. I fetch the tall ladder and spend the better part of Sunday evening repenting: degreasing.

It’s a disgusting job. I’m surprised that anyone ever agrees to even do it. I suppose there are professionals out there, hazmat-suited specialists who would tackle this … greased pig, for a price. Their schedules might well be full; a six-month waiting period before the master could possibly perform. Cripes, I just do it myself.

Ten minutes into the chore and my Mr. Clean has curled up to whimper like a wounded rabbit. I head for the basement to exchange my spent bucket water with hotter, squeezing in a few extra splashes of the yellow slime for good measure. The second bucket lasts scarcely longer, fouled by bits of sticky lint and fur. If I scraped it off, I might have every element needed to create some horrible stalking monster. Zap it with a million volts DC, expose it to a nugget of Radium, and that stuff could clean itself up. But the fuse box couldn’t handle a hundredth of the required voltage, and it’s AC, anyway, and Radium hasn’t been a wonder element since sometime in the early nineteen thirties. I slave away all by myself, moving everything beneath my workspace, lest cast iron or stainless steel get pitted from the splashdown.

The ceiling fan, quaint from a myopic distance, looks like Fossy Bear’s back on one of his visits the questionable steam baths. I really should shave the sucker, but I revere my razor too much to subject it to the ordeal. No, I fetch fresh water and Mr. C, washing out the rag in laundry detergent to recover some of its absorbency again, and I soldier on. And on. And on.

I’m up until after two in the morning recovering some semblance of sanity again. I feel as though I’ve just been sprung from a concentration camp, but the kitchen smells of orange oil and looks freshly shaven. I’d cleaned the place up when we moved in, since the owners weren’t quite as diligent as I, and folded packing paper into the cabinet tops. I stored all my big kitchen hardware up there, but never looked at what that stuff was sitting on. When I peeled off the two and a half year old cabinet top paper, it was the consistency of greased parchment. I asked The Muse to open the back sliding door, then carefully, as if carrying nitroglycerine, side-stepped onto the patio to discard the house-make parchment into the fire pit. It should be terrific for starting that final patio blaze or removing the odd eyebrow; probably both.

The more persistent parts needed liberal applications of the most serious grease remover I stock, a trigger-handled product called De-Solve-It. It smells of orange and might well register as greasier than grease. I suppose the chemists that formulated the stuff figured that it takes one to vanquish one, so they fight grease with greasier. The orange odor confuses the senses, but it does not confuse Mr. Clean for a moment. If the grease alone curled him up in grand mal whimper position, the greasy orange goo cuts the legs out from under him. I catch him slipping beneath the surface of the cleaning bucket and charge downstairs to empty same into that beleaguered utility sink. Oh, the stories that sink could tell. (Those will have to wait for another time.)

The kitchen will never be the same now. I’ve done my sacred duty, and will leave it much better than I found it. The new renters should never suspect that it once harbored the material any mad scientist would trade an eye tooth or two to acquire. I will collect my reward in Heaven, where I will find the opportunity to share a few rather choice words with my maker. Why, in the name of all that’s holy, would you create such an abomination, Lord? Did you come to work a little hung over that day? Were you distracted by that new admin over in actuarial? Just tell me why and I’ll die satisfied.

Until that day, I will retain a sharper memory of this experience. It might make me more mindful of the slick I leave behind me, though I’m confident it will never render me diligent enough to wash the ceiling with anything like the frequency I choose to wash the floor. I do not walk sock-footed on the ceiling, though I quite invisibly sling slippery upward every time I man the old spatula. I am less of a cook than I am a mess maker. Supper’s quite literally on me and my ceiling and my floor and the kitchen clock … On you, too, should you ever stop in for a bite.

Amen.

©2015 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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