The corkscrew has gone missing from its drawer.
Now, ordinarily, this wouldn’t be an insurmountable problem. No corkscrew? Not a big deal. Run to Wal-Mart or Target and buy a new one. Problem solved. Right?
Because in ten minutes or so, twenty-five of our closest friends and neighbors will be dropping in for an open house – a festive, Christmassy, come-anytime-between-seven-and-nine-thirty-p.m. casual party at our place.
The “festive” part includes wine, Pom-Tinis, and my personal favorite, the Filthy Fizz – a Nigella concoction consisting of one part Campari to two parts Prosecco, topped off with a splash of Chambord. There’s also my signature hot spiced wine on offer, ladled from a punch bowl into glasses and garnished with a cinnamon stick.
But the hot spiced wine won’t be happening. Because there is no corkscrew.
Now it’s widely known that to open a bottle of wine of any variety, one requires a corkscrew. It’s virtually impossible to pop the cork otherwise. Oh, you can pry it out with the tip of a knife, but you end up with something resembling the aftermath of the Titantic disaster – bits of cork bobbing around inside the bottle like survivors desperately clinging to life – which, face it, is not the ideal way to serve a guest a glass of wine. Prosecco, thank goodness, requires nothing but an expert tilt and twist, and off the oversized cork comes with a satisfying pop.
But my signature hot spiced wine? It’s not gonna happen without that corkscrew.
“Mr Oliver!” I bellow as I scrabble madly through the utensil drawers. ”Where the hell is the corkscrew?”
“How should I know?” he bellows back. “I haven’t seen it. Try the utensil drawer.”
“Brilliant idea,” I mutter to myself as I slam the drawer shut. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
After several more minutes of desperately searching the kitchen – including the interior of the cookie jar, the fridge, and the microwave – I finally admit defeat. Our first guests will be here in five minutes, in full (and deserved) expectation of hot spiced wine – or any kind of wine – only to have their hopes dashed.
“Are you quite sure you didn’t take it?” I demand once again. Mr Oliver is notorious for borrowing things – mainly things from the kitchen – and using them for some other, non-kitchen related (and probably nefarious) purpose.
“You didn’t use it to loosen a knot in your shoelaces? Or to unscrew a Phillips head? You’ve done that before,” I point out.
“For the last time, Katie,” he says irritably as he strides into the kitchen in his slacks and red sweater, “I haven’t seen the damned corkscrew! Why must you always blame me for everything that goes missing in this bloody house?”
“Because you’re always to blame!” I retort. I turn away, my mind racing. ”Oh, well, at least I can still make the Filthy Fizzes and Pom-Tinis. Thank God for screw tops.” I purse my lips and frown. “I think there’s a can or two of coconut cream somewhere. I could whip up some Piña Coladas, but the blender’s on the fritz…”
Suddenly Mr Oliver gets a strange look on his face. “Coconut?” he echoes.
“Yes. You know, the round brown things that grow on trees in tropical climes,” I snap as I begin to fling open cabinets.
Wordlessly he disappears into the garage. He returns a few minutes later, corkscrew in hand and a sheepish look on his face.
“It was in the garage?” I gasp, and grab it out of his hand. I want to kiss it, I’m so overjoyed. (The corkscrew, of course. Not Mr Oliver’s hand.) “What on earth was it doing in there?”
He looks uncomfortable. “Well, erm… remember when you were making that coconut cake, and you insisted on fresh coconut milk?”
“I used the corkscrew to do the job. Worked very well. And for some reason,” he added as he grabbed a bottle of Merlot and went to work on the cork,”I threw it in the tackle box when I was finished.”
“The tackle box,” I repeat. “Yes, of course, because that’s the logical place to put a corkscrew.”
“I forgot all about it until you said ‘coconut.’”
Instead of doing what I’d normally do – shout a lot, and tell him that if he’s going to borrow something from the kitchen, he damned well ought to put it back – I decide it doesn’t matter.
The corkscrew has been found, after all, and that’s all that counts.
And my signature hot spiced wine will soon be ladled out to one and all, cinnamon stick included.
Now, if I can just find the damned ladle…