Monday, July 7, 2008

A Goat and a Slinky

My avatar, the LeftOver Chef is in the house tonight.

You gotta know what to do with leftovers, otherwise that get pushed further back into the refrigerator until they disappear into mold workings. Cans of garbanzo beans. Old spaghetti. Grated cheese. Or chicken from last weekend. Freezing? I'm not a big fan. My mission is to enter the kitchens of online households everywhere. Give me a bunch of leftovers and I guarantee to make a tasty meal.

Watch as the LeftOver Chef performs kitchen surgery on yesterday's dinner. Nothing in my grocery bag. Nothing up my sleeve. No casseroles cooking in the oven. How will you recognize me onscreen? I have a full head of black hair streaked silver in front, and a handlebar mustache. My secret word is "passelhump" and my weapon is in turning over burgers. I can to wipe out my enemies in a single flip.

I travel seeking out nasty refrigerators throughout the Web, not exactly the Web, but in the pages of Second Story, my home away from home, my vacation spot that costs nothing but a yearly subscription.

I didn't just get here. At first, I wasn't sure who I wanted to be. There was a virtual closet of wigs, shirts, shoes, even belt buckles. Of course, I wanted to be a man. That part was easy. The question was, what kind of man? And I don't mean tall, medium, or short either.

I started off as the Animator. He was a fun guy. My secret weapon was that I could animate other avatars coming at me with full guns bloated. Then I could zap! Turn them into a dancing tie wrench, or Robin Williams, or Joe Bazooka. After I turned this guy with biceps that had Popeye's DNA written all over them into a squeaking mouse, I felt that I'd reached the zenith of my powers.

So I turned in the Animator guy's password at the programmer's chop house, and went searching for another character. A car with five superjets? I'm not mechanically inclined. Some guys love to tinker, but not me. A regular guy in a suit and tie. Duh. That's who I get to be most of the time. So I lurked around as a nobody, checking out the action.

Some wild parties up on Hunts Point Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard. A lot of smooth lines drove around that corner, which is when one decked out babe pushed a bag into my hand and said, "hold this for me." It's the kind of thing airport security warns you about. "Please inform security if you see an unattended bag, blah, blah, blah." But this was no bomb or bag of weed. It was a container of milk, a can of tuna, cheddar cheese and chips. And only a message at the bottom which read: "You're trapped in a well with a goat and a slinky. Describe how you escape."

The solution was simple. First, I had to make friends with the goat. So I fed him the paper bag. It was a big paper bag. Then I used a temporary password for the Animator whom I'd already retired but who still had one last good round, and used that time to turn myself into a half-pint person, stepped on the goat's back as he was finishing the last remaining shreds of the paper bag, jumped on the slinky, slamming it with all my weight, which propelled me from the goat's hairy back up to the ledge of the well. There I hung. Having hooked my foot around the slinky, I grabbed it, wrapped the wire with one hand around a rock, while I held on to the ledge with my other hand, and finally pulled myself up.

The goat was still at the bottom of the well with the rest of my groceries. Not wanting to seem ungrateful to he who had provided my means of support but with no further powers of the Animator at my command, I searched the landscape for a large bucket with a good rope that I managed to secure around the girth of the goat and hauled him and my groceries into the light of Thursday. I had one minute remaining and none too soon before the Animator avatar expired. I was no longer a half-pinter, but felt like a beer anyway. I retired to the nearby pub.

After I sipped my beer down to a foam mustache, it was time to get busy. With no paper bag, I stuffed my groceries beneath my windbreaker and searched for a kitchen in Second Story. Now there are different organizing principles around the place. I didn't want to search by country. Just by room. I selected "kitchen" from a drop-down list. There I was in this kitchen with granite this and and gleaming stainless steel that like some realtor had staged the place and forgotten to cart home the goodies.

I made myself at home and started cooking. Milk, tuna, cheddar cheese and chips? They don't call me a bachelor for nothing. I knew exactly what to do. I looked in the pantry and found flour. There was a stick of butter chilling in the refrigerator.

I made a tuna casserole, crumbled some of the chips over the top and circled the rest around the platter. Then all these people started showing up in the kitchen, nodding and smiling at me, talking in different languages. I didn't know what the hell they were saying, except I figured it had to do something with the food, because they were all pointing at the center of the table. So then I said the word, "passelhump." It just seemed like the right thing to do. Everyone sat down. They waiting for me to sit down also before we began to eat.

I always knew work had to be fun.

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