The Magic Pantry

SAM_1552My children are uncontrollably attracted to the pantry in the kitchen. Once they reached the height, strength and coordination level to open the door to it, all hell broke loose. Not actually, though they were in there a lot. There’s a ton of breakable stuff in the pantry – beer bottles, Kerr jars, dishes, and then there’ the dog food. Anyway, we found that if we jammed a newspaper between the jamb and the door, it was like a flag to the babes to stay away. So far, it’s worked – fingers crossed.

When the name for this phenomenon popped into my head, I started thinking about my friend Katie. I loved her so, and I still miss her. We met when I went to work in a software design firm in San Francisco. I took the job she had been promoted out of. It took us a couple of months to figure out that we really liked each other. We used to say that we lived equal but opposite lives because she grew up in Santa Barbara and went to college in the Bay Area and I, just the opposite. She had the best vocabulary of anybody I have ever known. Katie and I were in our early twenties, back in the day, so we had a lot of energy and a lot to learn. We used to like to goof around after work. One time, we decided we were going to drink whiskey, smoke cigars and play poker. Being the two sheltered girls that we were, we decided to do this at my apartment. Good move on our part, because it didn’t end well, and it could have been really bad if we were in public. So we had some whiskey, and kept saying in loud voices that “first we were going to get hammered then we were going to get nailed.” Again, thank goodness we were at home! After the bit of whiskey we lit our teeny tiny cigars. No one ever told us not to inhale cigar smoke. Apparently, we missed that class. We literally turned green. End of evening. Still, it was so fun being with her. The reason “Magic Pantry” makes me think of her is that we sometimes went for drinks at the Magic Pan restaurant near our office. It wasn’t a hang-out for anyone but us, and we swore it had a Mormon bartender. Other than that, the bar was kind of nice with a greenhouse window looking out onto a San Francisco street scene. We’d sit for hours nursing our watered down drinks, smoking (Like I said, we had a lot to learn!) and the bartender never asked us if we wanted another drink, nor did he ever empty the ashtray. I mean come on! We were in our early twenties, dressed up in our cute work clothes and clearly clueless. Wouldn’t you think the bartender, at least, would be treating us like sophisticated ladies for a bigger tip? Alas, someone upstairs was looking out for us in our little safe haven at the Magic Pan.

I found out by chance while surfing the web one day that Katie had been the victim of a terrible accident. She suffered brain damage after being hit by a truck while crossing the street. I tried to connect with her sister, but I think I must not have understood the gravity of the situation at the time. I think of Katie often, and say a prayer for her. Five years ago, my stepson also suffered a brain injury. He had a bicycle accident while at college. When we first saw him in the hospital, he was banged up, but more shocking was the change in his personality. The doctors told us that it was common for people suffering his kind of brain injury to lose their impulse control. Four times during his week in the hospital, he ripped out all of the IVs and monitors on his body and headed for the door. His prognosis was good, and he was a big, strong kid trying to escape the hospital. He was released to us an unfiltered person. He told us and everyone we encountered exactly what was on his mind. He was also incredibly restless. This made for an exciting five hour drive home since he would try to open the car door at freeway speed to go for a walk. After about six months, we all agreed he was well enough to go back to school. Honestly, I think he was still healing, but he so loved his college experience, we thought being happy would help him. He’s fine now. He ended up with a scar on his forehead and no real memory of that week and the few months that followed. Probably for the best. I was told that Katie would never recover from her injury. Even though she lived through her accident, the world lost a bright star that day. But life is a mystery and so my three miracles, bright stars each, still twinkle, two of them. more often than not, in the magic pantry.