No, this is not a Battlestar Gallactica post. Once upon a time, I fell in love with a boy. This was my freshman year in college and I was a bit naive. He was an RA and the "contrary" type, so he decided to organize a group spring break trip to Canada, rather than follow the crowds to Mexico. I eagerly signed up for this trip. It turned out I was his only taker, which was fine by me. My mind began making the situation terribly romantic.
I had never traveled to a foreign country at this point. This boy advised me not to change any money (you get ripped off), not to worry about traveler's checks, and that it was probably just fine that I didn't have a credit card, that cashing a check at a bank would probably be good enough. Like I said, I was a bit naive, so I just believed him. After all, he told everyone he was Canadian, so he must know (he was not). And with as much planning as that, we were on our way to Toronto.
We arrived on a Saturday- just late enough for the banks to have closed. Canadian banks, like US banks, are closed on Sundays, and Monday was a holiday. We were returning Tuesday morning. In short, I was broke and totally dependent on the finances of this guy, who had only really planned to pay for himself. This made me feel more like an obligation than a romantic traveling companion, and a complete idiot for not having done the research myself.
This wasn't the end of the world. While the situation was not ideal, it was okay. At least, it was okay until we got to the hotel. The White House hotel: a two star hotel/restaurant (the latter had been boarded up) located in the heart of the... something... district. It had that "check the sheets" feel to it. There was a half-kitchen in the room and a television chained to the dresser. I was reminded of Josh's (Tom Hanks) first hotel experience in "Big." Suddenly, I wished that my love interest was maybe just a little bit of a conformist. Cancun was sounding kind of nice.
Still, we can trudge through a lot for love (and we often put up with more than we should). That first night, we saw a movie together: "Fargo." Romantic it weren't. How can you hold someone's hand through a movie in which a guy kidnaps his own wife and someone gets put through a wood chipper? The next day, we explored Toronto (great city, by the way- I've since been three times) and had dinner at a pizza place, where, being the legal drinking age in Canada, he had wine while I stood by my "I don't drink" philosophy. The next morning, he became violently ill. Having never really been drunk in my life at that point, I assumed it was a hangover and let him be. It became evident, however, that this was more than a simple hangover. I blame the sausage he had ordered on his side of the pizza.
I watched this boy become more and more ill and started growing concerned (he was also the "I will die before I go to the doctor/hospital" type, so I was getting worried). I suddenly saw myself alone and penniless in Canada. We spent most of Monday in the hotel, where I feared he would die. I read "James and the Giant Peach," sketched, and watched curling on television (those wacky Canadians). At about 7PM, "Batman Returns" came on and the sun started going down. I decided that I needed to eat something and had to harass my ill hotel mate for some cash. We needed money for the cab back to the airport the next day, so he could only afford to give me about $5.
I trotted to the sketchy convenience store down the street and got a can of soup and a couple of popsicles, both of which I thought my slowly-recovering crush could eat, as well. I figured I could cook the soup on the stove in our room, which suddenly seemed a lot less pointless. It wasn't much of a dinner and with an empty, angry stomach, I suddenly understood how people end up asking strangers for money.
I returned to the hotel and asked the "concierge" (who, when I left, was "chatting" with the police about an "incident") for a can opener and perhaps some spoons, a pot... anything with which to make/eat soup. He led me to the dilapidated restaurant where he pulled his only utensil- a large fork- out of a fairly raw-looking piece of meat. I kindly refused, smiled, thanked him and headed back to the room.
I looked around the kitchenette for a pot. No luck. It didn't matter, though. I was a Girl Scout. I could cook the soup in the can. I figured we could also use the plastic courtesy cups in the room as "bowls." I opened the can using a large knife that I had found. I was feeling pretty clever until I tried to turn the stove on. Of course, it didn't work. My mind went into overdrive as I tried to imagine how I would heat the soup. I didn't want to re-poison the boy. Suddenly, I remembered having seen a toaster when I was looking for a pot. Toasters get hot. Could I cook soup in a toaster, though? Before I got my hopes up, I pulled it out, plugged it in, crossed my fingers and turned it on. Success! Heat! Heat can cook! I placed the metal can of soup on top of one of the slots of the toaster and smiled it as it gradually got hotter.
The only problem with this plan was that the heating wires in toasters tend to turn themselves off at certain temperatures. This is great if you are avoiding burnt toast, not so great when you are playing MacGyver. My solution: cool the toaster coils on the side that was not cooking the soup so that it would never overheat. My method for doing so was blowing on it (fanning it would have cooled both sides and the soup, which was not what I wanted). While I nearly hyperventilated, my idea worked. The soup became nice and hot and we had our "dinner." Still somewhat hungry, I curled myself up in a ball and went to sleep, eager to catch our plane the next morning (by which time, thankfully, the boy was on the mend).
Here's the funny thing about life: you have to open yourself to what the world is trying to tell you, even if it's not what you want to hear. I had imagined myself dependent upon this boy and ended up taking care of him in the end. Even though the romantic getaway that I had imagined did not transpire, I learned that I have the patience of a saint, that cleverness is more valuable than money and that the romantic mind is capable of placing the scent of roses over the stench of danger. It took a long time for this lesson to sink in, but I go back to this moment in time every time I feel incapable of solving a problem.
I will never forget the day I successfully cooked soup with a toaster.