Handy’s meat thermometer had been missing for several months. It disappeared in the summer and I uttered words like “when did you last see it” and “it will show up when you least expect it.” Time passed and he rejected my offers to loan him my old-timey temperature tester; he liked the accuracy of his digital device. The grilling season came and went and then we had Thanksgiving dinner at his sister’s house. No slow-cooking viands.
We had occasional conversations about the instrument. A missing electric bill raised concerns.
“Maybe someone took the electric bill and the meat thermometer?”
Handy got a new tenant around the same time the thermometer disappeared; a flurry of faces coming and going raised suspicions as the vacant apartment filled with furniture, dishes, and tools of domestic life.
“Maybe the movers took the meat thermometer.”
But it didn’t show up; when I visited Handy’s house, I’d poke surreptitiously around the kitchen looking for the digital box with the attached probe.
“What are you doing?”
During dinner one night, with little fanfare, Handy told me he’d found the meat thermometer. I didn’t ask a lot of questions. I was thankful, since we were planning to have beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner.
It was a lovely cut and Handy masterfully prepared it by encasing the meat in salt and cooking it under intense heat. It came out of the oven looking much like the cooking tutorial suggested and while it took the obligatory rest before carving, Handy prepared the béarnaise sauce.
The slices from the ends were perfectly done and we plated portions for our guests and then prepared our own portions, noting the inner slices were just a tad on the rare side. But the show must go on and we said little about it until our guests left after dessert.
“I think the meat thermometer is 10 degrees off,” Handy said as we put the last dishes away.
It did seem possible.
But could there have been some other more sinister reason for the slightly imperfect outcome? Where had the meat thermometer been all those months? As the last Christmas carol played at the stroke of midnight, I looked up from the book I was reading and texted Handy with a theory.
“Maybe the Russians hacked your meat thermometer. Putin did it.”
Wasn’t it possible? The Russians were at it again, hacking into everything; I read it in the New York Times. And wouldn’t a Putin-tainted meat probe be the perfect way to make a mockery of our meal?
After a long digital silence, Handy typed his response. It arrived, those three words every woman wants to hear in the wee small hours of the morning.
“Go to sleep.”