A Watched Pot

My Grandma used to say a watched pot never boils. I’m beginning to believe she was right.

She first said this to me when I was nine. As tradition was in my family, every Wednesday evening we would all go over to Grandma’s house to have a large family dinner. Why Wednesday, I’m not sure, but I always enjoyed going over and helping her cook. Strange, I know, that a boy would enjoy cooking, but I do, and she’s the reason I’m a chef today.

The smell of pasta sauce hung heavy in the air, and I sat at the kitchen table, both the table and I covered in flour, kneading the bread dough and telling her about my day at school.

Once I was finished with the kneading, she asked if I could put a pot of water on the stove.

“Sure.” I retrieved a pot from the lower cabinet, and filled it with water. After putting it on the stove and turning on the burner, I pulled myself up and sat on the counter next to the stove and began to watch the water.

“Johnny.”

I looked up, thinking she might scold me for sitting on the counter like my mother always did.

She smiled at me instead and said, “A watched pot never boils.”

I smiled back. Everyone knows water boils when it reaches the right temperature, no matter what. So, I looked back to the pot and began to watch for the slightest signs of boiling.

“You’re wrong!” I yelled when I saw the first small bubbles form. “The pot boiled. A watched pot does boil.”

She looked at me, chuckled a little, and said, “You looked away.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did. When I told you, a watched pot never boils. You looked at me, and not the pot.”

She was right. I had looked away, hadn’t I?

Upset, but not discouraged, I spent the next several days trying to prove my Grandma wrong. The attention span of a nine-year-old boy, however, proved to be a handicap, and I soon lost interest in the task.

The years went by, Grandma passed away, and on occasion, I would remember her words. But, every time I tried to prove the adage wrong, something came up to pull my stare away from the pot.

I suppose I could have ignored all of the distractions, but I looked away out of habit. Last time, I got so thirsty I had to get a glass of water. I thought I’d kept an eye on the pot as I filled the glass, but I must have looked away. The pot began to boil soon after I returned.

This time however, will be different. I have the day off of work, there’s a glass of water close at hand, the phone’s unplugged, and I’ve hung a NO SOLICITING sign on the front door.

Oh yes, this time will be different.

I hope the water boils soon. It’s been eight hours now, and I really need to use the bathroom.

Ω

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