Just as my pressure cooker whistled, the doorbell rang. My neighbor, Denise, stood there with a plate of cookies. “I made them this morning.”
I welcomed her. “Come in. Let’s have these with our tea.” We sat at the kitchen table with our cups when suddenly the cooker screeched again. The sound jolted Denise, making her spill some tea.
She quickly wiped it. “Whew, it scared me. How long is it going to go on?”
“Just one more whistle.”
“Don’t you time it?” Denise asked.
“In my Indian pressure cooker, I just count the number of screams. This vegetable, legume, and rice mix is a three whistle dish.”
“That thing is noisier than the shooting range your liberal friends are protesting.” Denise frowned.
I decided not to argue with her. She is a Republican, I’m a Democrat. She listens to Rush Limbaugh, I listen to NPR. She and her husband are members of the National Rifle Association, my husband and I contribute to the Brady Campaign. But we have shared car pools, babysitting, my curry and puris, and her vegetable lasagna and cookies. We have taken care of each other during illnesses and celebrated many milestones together.
Could it be the Patriots’ Day bombing in Boston, which has created a mass fear of pressure cookers? A few gun advocates implied that pressure cookers are more dangerous than guns. But Denise wouldn’t believe that, would she?
“The terrorists used pressure cookers at the Marathon.” Denise frowned.
I nodded, remembering the tragedy in Boston.
“Can’t you cook without one of those?” Denise asked. When I shook my head she warned me, “The government will take them away some day.”
“Why?” I glanced at my pot, cheerfully bubbling.
“An airline passenger was arrested because they found a pressure cooker in his bag,” Denise said.
“They must have also found something suspicious in his luggage,” I offered.
She pointed toward the stove. “How many of those do you have?”
“Oh, about six. Why? Would you like one?”
“You always question me about the number of guns we have and ask if we need them all. Why do you have so many?”
“Well, I use different pressure cookers for different foods. I have a big one with three compartments so I can cook my legumes, rice and vegetable together in ten minutes. I have a small one for cooking any single item, and a big one for parties. And my husband has one for his lamb and chicken. I’ll take the two old ones to Goodwill soon.”
“After you donate, what if a terrorist makes bombs with them? The police will trace them to you. Are they registered?”
She was turning my arguments about weapon registrations against me. “The two we bought here are registered, the Indian ones aren’t. If the government wants to take inventory of my pressure cookers and asks me to get a license for each, I’ll gladly comply.”
“That’s what you say now. If you are continuously bombarded about the model of your pressure cookers, the purpose for possessing them, and such silly questions, you will understand how we feel when the government impinges on our privacy and our rights to own arms. Pressure cookers have more potential of being abused than guns,” Denise huffed.
Hearing the final whistle, I turned off the stove. I said, “In the last ten years how many deaths—accidents, suicides or homicides—have occurred with pressure cookers?”
Denise knotted her brows. “Owning a gun is our Second Amendment Right. We won’t let the government take that away.”
“How will background checks before buying a gun take your rights away?” I asked. “If I had a gun, I’d gladly go through the requirements so the criminals won’t spoil the reputation of responsible gun owners.”
“My friend, you will only understand my grievances when the government confiscates your pressure cookers.” Denise gulped her tea and stood. “Need to go. Do you want me to drive tomorrow to our guild meeting?”
“Sure.” I waved as she left.
Maybe they’re coming after my pressure cookers. Maybe I need to persuade my husband to buy a gun to protect my cooking rights.
Hemlata Vasavada is a freelance writer based in Mount Vernon, Washington. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies.
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