miscommunicamp by steph katzovi header 02

Matters of Life and Steph: “On a Blender”- Musings from a Children’s Writer

I have previously written about some of the less-than-intelligent things I’ve done as a child. I’ve held off on sharing one particular gem from my childhood largely because it’s extremely embarrassing. It’s taken me years not to storm away or hang up the phone in a huff when my family teases me about the incident in question. (Which they still do every now and again.) Being so many years removed, at least I now have the maturity to laugh it off. Well, sort of.

Today’s post is about a mistake I made when I was twelve years old and my failed attempt to cover it up. The life lesson I learned from this experience: it’s better to own up to a mistake, however awful or embarrassing it feels in the moment, and face the consequences. Life is simpler without the weight of a lie—whether outright or by omission—hanging over you.

Here’s what happened…

I scream, you scream

I have always loved ice cream. Because my mother was (and is) a diehard health nut, she would buy only the plainest flavors of all-natural ice cream. Her go-to brands were Breyers or Dolly Madison; Häagen-Dazs was only for when we had company. While I would yearn for ice cream with mixed-in toppings, those decadent flavors never made it into our shopping cart.

Instead, we got chocolate, vanilla, or the most dreadful combination of all, Neapolitan. For those of you who have never heard of this dastardly creation, Neapolitan—sometimes called Harlequin ice cream—is one-third chocolate, one-third vanilla, and one-third strawberry. Whoever thought that putting a fruit flavor with chocolate and vanilla was a good idea? Shame on them!

So, why did my mother keep buying Neapolitan when she knew it elicited a visceral reaction from her children? Well, because my dad liked strawberry. As our compromise, my sister and I carefully ate only the chocolate and vanilla, leaving behind the sad slab of strawberry for our father.

Just desserts

My typical dessert was two generous scoops of ice cream in a bowl. Sometimes, when the mood struck, I would put the ice cream in a cup, pour milk three-quarters of the way up, and squirt some chocolate syrup on top. Sort of a gloppy, unblended milkshake. I called the not-so-magical creation “ice-milk.”  

As I got older and more sophisticated, so did my dessert concoctions. Around the age of twelve, I felt pretty good about my baking expertise. After all, I’d made cookies many times before, plus I’d had that one failed attempt at making soft-baked pretzels (which I wrote about in my “Beauty and the Yeast” post). As such, I was ready to take my ice-milk concoction to the next level.

This meant using the blender.

I knew just what I wanted to do. Using the blender, I was going to turn my ice-milk concoction into a chocolate shake.

My poor mother, who had probably had enough cooking and cleaning for the day, now had to find the blender and show me how to use it.

A-tisket a-gasket

Our first step was digging out the blender from the back of a cabinet. I know for a fact that my mother only used the blender for making gazpacho soup.(I had never seen her use is it on any other occasion.)

With the blender on the counter, my mother showed me each of the components, including something called a gasket.

“The gasket is a rubber ring you have to put between the blender base and the pitcher,” she explained. I watched carefully as she showed me how to assemble everything.

“Put the gasket on the base, make sure the pitcher is screwed in correctly, then carefully place the blade in the slot. Once you’ve put in your ingredients, don’t forget to put on the top.” Seemed easy enough.

After I repeated back all the instructions to her satisfaction, my mom finally let me use the blender.

Frappè go lucky

With just one sip of my blended drink, I realized that a milkshake was a million times better than my ice-milk concoction would ever be.

But making a milkshake had its price. I didn’t just have a cup and a spoon to clean. If I used the blender, not only did I have to assemble it, but also clean each of its pieces, dry everything, and then put it back into the cabinet when I was done. Because my mother refused to yield her precious counter space, as a condition of use, the blender always had to be put away.

For the next several days, the extra steps for a delicious chocolate shake were worth it. So, I suffered through the blender assembly and clean-up process.

Soon enough, I got tired of all the extra steps and quietly went back to my old ice-milk concoction.

A few months later, though, when my parents went out, I suddenly had a hankering for a milkshake.

And that’s when my dessert-making turned sour.

Crying over spilled milk

I rooted around the back of the cabinet to dig out the blender. Realizing that my parents would be home soon, and I was supposed to have taken a shower and gotten ready for bed, I hurried to assemble the blender. I quickly dumped in my ingredients. When I pressed the “frappè” button, the blender started making a strange sound. The base started to smoke. Something was wrong.

That’s when I panicked. Fearful that the smoke detector would go off, I yanked the cord out of the wall and tried to ignore the scent of burnt rubber.

The smart thing to do in this situation would be to either eat (or throw away) the partially blended ingredients and clean the blender. At minimum, I should’ve told my parents what had happened.   

That’s not what I did.

Dairy, dairy quite contrary

No, I did the exact opposite of the smart thing. I said nothing. Instead, I took the blender, still full of its now melting contents, and shoved it all back into the cabinet. I might have even stood in front of the cabinet for a few extra seconds to make sure the blender couldn’t escape.

With a pounding heart, I raced upstairs and took a shower. I hoped that no one would know that something had gone horribly awry in the kitchen.

Since I’d stashed the evidence of my crime and then sprayed Lysol in the area, my parents didn’t suspect a thing when they came home. They didn’t suspect anything for the next few days. The days turned into weeks. Meanwhile the blender—still full of its contents—was wedged in the back of the cabinet.

In the beginning, I was worried that I’d be found out. I told myself that, technically, I hadn’t actually lied because no one asked me about the blender. (I guess “omission” wasn’t yet in my vocabulary.) So, as the days and weeks went on, eventually, I eventually forgot all about the stashed blender. 

But my cover-up wouldn’t last forever. As anyone knows, dairy products have an expiration date for a reason.

Moldy but goodie

My meticulously clean mother was tidying up the kitchen a few weeks after the blender incident when she smelled something foul. It was so clean in our house that any speck of dirt or tainted item was detected immediately. It was only a matter of time before she found the source of the smell.

My mother, who may have been a bloodhound in a prior life, sniffed around the kitchen until her nose soon led her to the cabinet where the blender was.

My stomach turned when she unearthed the blender, and not just because the rancid smell was so overpowering. The blender’s now-pink contents were fuzzy with mold (recall, the ice cream had been chocolate, not strawberry). It was disgusting.

And I was about to get caught.

Smells like trouble

For some reason, I didn’t immediately admit that the mess in the blender was mine. OK, fine. I know the reason. I was embarrassed. My mom asked both my sister and me about the blender. My sister’s genuine reaction of absolute shock and disgust immediately eliminated her as a suspect. I played dumb and said “It wasn’t me. Maybe it was Daddy?” My mother didn’t say anything.

Looking back, she must’ve known right then and there that I was to blame. As wonderful as my father is, he does not use anything in the kitchen that isn’t at eye level or at the front of a cabinet or shelf.

My wise mother let my bluff play out a little longer. A few hours later, though, she came up to my room.

“Steph, is there something you want to tell me?” I knew I was busted. Naturally, I burst into tears. I confessed that I thought I’d broken the blender and had gotten scared.

There went my career as a covert agent.

Eat my words

My mother could see that I was full of remorse. Still, there was a message that needed to be stated: “You realize that you made a much bigger mess out of the situation than if you’d just been honest about what had happened?” I nodded and said I was sorry. And I truly was.

I would’ve understood if my mother had made me clean out the blender as punishment. Perhaps seeing my tremendous remorse (or realizing that the blender needed about forty gallons of bleach), she spared me. 

It turns out that I hadn’t broken the blender. I had just forgotten to put on the gasket. But the lesson I learned was one that I’ve always tried to live by: own up to your mistakes, as hard as that might be. Living with a clear conscious is better than being weighed down by lies.

Not surprisingly, I lost my taste for milkshakes soon after the blender incident. Even worse, I became lactose intolerant in my twenties. So, now if I ever crave a homemade milkshake again, it can only be dairy-free.

Do you recall a childhood experience where you wish you had reacted differently? Please share your stories with me in the comments section.

Don't Miss Steph's Posts!

Submit the form below to sign up to receive a notification when Steph posts a new blog.

Buy Miscommunicamp NOW:

Buy Hurricamp NOW: