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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

There Are No Dumpling Questions, Dear

Some questions are virtually self-evident, with the answer scarcely requiring an explanation. Other questions… not so much.

When my wife came home from work tonight, she found me sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with the rotating tray from the microwave on my lap, poking with a toothpick at bits of food embedded in a mound of molten blue plastic. In response, she had several questions. Starting with:

What in god’s name are you doing this time?

(Kids, you know you’re leading a full life when the questions end with ‘-this time?‘ That’s a sure sign you’ve made it. Your misadventures are no longer simply uncommon — at that stage, the questions merely end with ‘-now?‘ — but they’ve moved into the realm of the fully expected. It’s an accomplishment. Envy me.)

Luckily, this was one of those self-evident questions. So I was prepared:

I’m sitting in the middle of the kitchen with the rotating microwave tray, poking at food and plastic with this toothpick. Clearly.

“Frankly, it looked like Boozy Smurf had just upchucked on my lap.”

I found a pea, speared it and popped it in my mouth. She lingered, as though she were waiting for something more. Maybe I should have offered her the pea. She tried again.

No… but… well, why are you sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor?

Another softball, as plain as day.

Because I didn’t want to get this mess on the couch. This seemed cleaner.

Indeed, even as I spoke the dog was snurfling up little bits of rice that I’d missed from around my legs. The system was obviously working.

Well, what is that mess, anyway?

A question with a less obvious answer, I had to give her that. Frankly, it looked like Boozy Smurf had just upchucked on my lap. But that couldn’t have happened, of course. Boozy’s been off the sauce for three years now.

Also, Smurfs aren’t real. There’s also that.

This mess is mostly leftover Chinese food, but also quite a bit melted disposable plastic plate.

She drifted back into the easy questions.

Did you melt it in the microwave?

Well, I didn’t drop it into the fires of fricking Mordor, now did I, sister?


Okay, why did you melt it in the microwave?

I needed a plate for dinner. It seemed sturdy. Ish.

Was it labeled microwave-safe?

Okay, even she knew the answer to that one. I could see it in her one untwitching eye.

It’s hard to tell now, what with the melting and recongealing onto the rotator tray. But I’d venture to guess that no, it probably was not labeled microwave-safe.

Well, why did you use that, anyway? We have real plates.

They were all dirty, so I started the dishwasher. Then I needed a plate.

You could have stopped the dishwasher.

You don’t just stop a dishwasher. That’s madness.

You could have kept one plate out, and washed it in the sink.

But we have a dishwasher. That’s what it’s for.

We looked at each other momentarily, trying to imagine what strange alien world the other had recently hatched from. I stabbed a baby shrimp and ate it; she resumed the interrogation.

That plastic stinks. Why didn’t you just throw that away and heat up more?

Then you wouldn’t have any. I didn’t want to be rude.

And why are you picking at it with a toothpick?

Well, partly to avoid the bits of plastic. But mostly, the obvious.

She gave me a look that was both questioning and exasperated. My wife’s face can be pretty expressive, when you get right down to it. I think she must practice crinkling her nose in the mirror after I go to bed. This look plainly said, ‘What obvious, dummy?

I pointed to the dishwasher, making an expression of my own meant to signal that all of the forks were also dirty and so my hands were clearly tied. Maybe it did. Maybe it signaled I was choking on a baby shrimp. I’m not so good at these non-verbal things.

She sighed, and apparently felt the need to tally up the sum of what she’d learned. I stabbed at a bit of what might have once been a dumpling and nodded in agreement.

So let me get this straight. You’re sitting there in the middle of the floor poking stinking melted leftovers with a toothpick because you don’t want to get the couch dirty, we have no clean plates, you can’t wash one yourself, all the forks are in the dishwasher, you don’t want to be ‘rude’, and you think because a plate looks ‘sturdy’, it can withstand four hundred degrees of heat in the microwave?

I munched the purported dumpling thoughtfully before replying.

Sturdy-ish. But otherwise, yes. It’s pretty simple, really.

Unbelievable. Just completely un-freaking-believable. Fine. I just have one more question, then.

Nope, not a dumpling. Either a soggy water chestnut or a semi-petrified slab of Hunan chicken. That mystery solved, I was ready for my sweetie’s final query.


I see we have glasses left in the cupboard. So why on earth are you sitting down there with a sippy cup?

Ah, that’s my snookums — end me on an easy one.

Well, come on — Flintstones. I mean, duh, right?

Like I said. Some answers are self-evident.

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