When I was doing my student teaching back in the early stone age, my husband and I, married less than a year, rented an old barn-shaped house in a part of Cape Girardeau, where I wouldn't go these days..
To show you how quaint our lives were back in the early sixties, before advanced technology swept the nation, we had a black and white TV with rabbit ears, a gas stove, and a black rotary phone. Microwaves had not been invented, and air-conditioning existed in very few homes. In the summer, we went to the drug store or the movies for a rare taste of cold air. We had a 1959 Buick, and it had no air or power steering.
The elderly landlord and his wife lived next door. He had two identical 1947 Plymouths, one black and one robin's egg blue. During the week, he would back the black one out of the "car house" and take it on errands. On Sunday, he would drive blue Plymouth. He washed both cars every week.
We had very little food in the house; an empty refrigerator sat in the big vacant kitchen next to a dining room with a wobbly-legged table and two chairs.
I did my student teaching during the last semester of my senior year, carpooling to Oran, and, since I couldn't afford to buy the school lunch, I took a sandwich every day. Because I was so nervous about teaching the fifth hour psychology class right after lunch, I could force down only one-half of the sandwich without fear that it would come back up at an inappropriate moment.
My supervising teacher was a legend in the school, and the high school students were terrified and delighted by him on a daily basis. He was the most dynamic, knowledgeable tyrant I ever met in a classroom, and the students hung on his every word. He never made out a lesson plan; he taught history off the top of his head. He and another teacher had the most fascinating political discussions in the teachers' lounge.
Every evening, I made my tuna salad for the next day. I boiled the egg on the gas stove and put my salad together for the next day's lunch.
One cold winter night, as we were sleeping in our upstairs bedroom, I was awakened by a most HORRID smell! It burned my eyes and pierced my brain! I hurried downstairs to discover that I had left my egg boiling in the pan on the stove, where it had exploded in vile-smelling pieces all over the ceiling, walls, and floor. I stood in horrified disbelief. How could one little egg cause such a crippling stench?
As I staggered around the kitchen, trying desperately to clean up the mess, my husband threw open every window in the house. It must have been well below freezing outside, because the house rapidly took on the quality of a meat locker. My fingers could hardly move. I crawled on the floor, peering under the stove for the hard, toxic bits of yellow egg. I stood on a chair with the mop, trying to wipe off bits of stinky yellow from that high plaster ceiling. Would it never end?
Finally, we gave up and went back to bed, shivering under several thin blankets.
The next day was a long one. No sleep, no sandwich... I was a zombie...
I cleaned up pieces of egg for months afterward. Just when I thought I had gotten it all, I would see a little yellow piece, peeking out of some corner, sending out a noxious odor.
Ever since that night, I've been aware of how delicate our existence is in life--how one tiny misstep can have enormous consequences.
And I've had a healthy respect for the power of eggs.