Dec 282009

Alpha Geek’s uncle is busy keeping our holiday interesting. Christmas morning he almost set fire to the kitchen.

Let’s back up a little for some background. For the last few years—four? five?—Devant has been the proud papa of a brain tumor. At first it started off small, just a wee malignancy. Eventually it grew up and had to be evicted. Earlier this year Devant underwent a successful surgery to have it removed (under that Canadian health care system that apparently doesn’t work at all).

While the tumor was in residence, it naturally affected Devant’s brain in various ways. He was largely unaware of these effects until it was gone. For example, he developed a degree of paranoia, believing that there were people out to get him.

Little Devant is gone now, and Devant’s brain appears to be functioning normally again (well, as normally as it ever did). However, he still retains the memories of what he thought and perceived while hosting his tumor. They are, to him, perfectly real and valid memories. He still believes that there are people after him, and is now incorporating this belief into things that are happening in his life.

It drives Alpha Geek quietly nuts, because he wants to debate the whole thing logically. Devant is perfectly capable of being logical, within the framework of his perceptions.

To me, logic is like salt. It’s very nice to have around, it adds flavor to things and a certain amount is even necessary. But it doesn’t have to be in everything and too much is bad for you. So I’m perfectly happy to accept Devant’s premise on its own terms, give it mental house room for the purpose of discussion, and then put it away after we’re done.

“There are people after me, you know,” he told me this morning.

“And you decided to stay with us?” I teased him.

“Well, I didn’t know they were after me. But I think they may be following me.” He pondered a moment. “They put a GPS tracking unit in my head, during my surgery,” he added.

“Then they don’t need to follow you, do they?” I pointed out. “They already know where you are.”

He brightened. “That’s true, they won’t be following me, will they?” The prospect seemed to reassure him.

Back to Christmas morning. Devant brought his own special cereal that he likes to have for breakfast, a self-made combination of oatmeal, granola… and plankton. Or as he calls it, “pond scum.” It amuses him that I refer to it as his “pond scum cereal.” He adds a little water and heats it in the microwave for five minutes.

Friday morning his finger must have slipped, so that instead of setting the microwave for five minutes, he set it for fifty.

Devant does not like to be in the room with the microwave when it’s running. Because of the radiation. So he set the microwave for (he thought) five minutes, and then went back downstairs. And fell asleep.

The microwave read 39:14 when I came out to investigate the burning smell and opened the door. Vile smoke billowed forth. The bowl was infused with carbonized pond scum.

We opened all the windows and turned on the house fan, and later showed Devant how to use the “quick minute” button that simply adds a minute to the time every time you press it. That way even if his finger slips it’ll only be one more minute. Last night he spend half an hour or so scrubbing out the microwave until it was even cleaner than when he got here.

And of course we will give him a hard time about it for years to come. Friday afternoon, at Christmas dinner, we moved things away from the candles when he reached for them. We told him he was over his quota for setting things on fire.