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I expected to be a better cook by now.

I don’t mean because I’m old and I have a lot of experience. I mean because I’m retired and I have a lot of time.

It turns out, time was never my problem. Paying attention was my problem. And this dates back to elementary school.

I will now confess I cheated on the Iowa Skills Tests. Those are the tests they make kids take to test their IQs. But I didn’t know that at the time.What I did know was that there was a lot of boring stories to read and then they wanted you to answer questions about them.. The instructions always cautioned against answering questions before reading the stories.

Even as a fifth grader, I scoffed at these commandants who would never know if I read the stories or not. So I didn’t read them. Instead, I raced through the questions, picking out the pertinent information I needed from the story.

That’s why I always finished first. And then I got to read whatever I wanted, which was not some lame story on the Iowa Skills Test.

Well, the joke was on them because I always tested off the charts. In fifth grade, my parents were told I was reading at a 12th grade level. Too bad I didn’t have the grades to back that up.

But the worst part of my failure to follow the rules is that it set me up for a lifetime of ignoring directions.

When I was learning to sew, I made my mom or sisters explain patterns which were incomprehensible to me. I guess they explained what a dart was in the directions,  but they were too long and boring to read.

Somehow, in 36 years as a reporter, I managed to write many, many sets of directions for how to do things, mostly on the pages of the home and garden section. I guess you don’t need to follow directions if all you want to do is write directions.

But I think this has carried over into cooking, too. Not only do I sometimes read ahead and miss a step in the directions, I then race out of the kitchen and pick up something I really want to read, like s suspense novel.

Two hours later, I smell supper burning.

I’ve actually developed a taste for burned food and I still prefer to be the one who chooses what I read.



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