After an odd lunch with Cousin Reginald, Isaac returned home with a popcorn popper. He found Charlie in his room, reading. “I’m home.”
Charlie sat up and put his finger in the book to mark his page. “Great! Now we can watch the movie. I was just re-reading the book so I remembered what happens. Did you remember when the dinosaurs first saw the submarine…” Charlie paused. “Hey, what’s that?”
Isaac held up the popcorn popper. “It’s for popping popcorn. Cousin Reginald gave it to me.”
“How was your lunch? I can’t believe he wanted to have a picnic at the hardware store.” Charlie put a bookmark in his book and set it on the top of his bookshelf.
“It was strange. I kept worrying they’d ask us to leave. At one point, he considered asking for wood scraps to start a fire in the middle of one of the aisles so that he could roast the marshmallow bunnies he brought. I told him I didn’t like them roasted, so he didn’t ask after all.”
Charlie laughed. “And then he gave you a popcorn popper?”
“Yep. Do you want to see how it works?” Isaac asked. “I bought popcorn kernels on the way home.”
Charlie jumped to his feet. “Popcorn and a movie? Sounds perfect. Lead the way.”
Marianne was already waiting for them in the kitchen. Isaac plugged in the popper while she measured out a scoop of popcorn. She poured the kernels into the popper and put the lid back on. “I already melted the butter while I was waiting for you,” she said.
Isaac turned the popper around several times. There weren’t any switches or buttons. “I don’t know how to turn this on,” he finally admitted.
Marianne and Charlie checked the popper. They couldn’t find anything either. “It doesn’t even have a brand name,” Marianne said. “So we can’t look it up.” She narrowed her eyes. “Do you think Cousin Reginald messed with the wiring or something and turned it into something dangerous?”
Isaac shook his head. “Cousin Reginald is strange sometimes, but I don’t think he’d ever purposely hurt us.”
Charlie sighed. “I want to watch the movie and eat popcorn. Why won’t the popper pop?”
Suddenly, the popper whirred to life. Marianne and Isaac turned to look at the popper in surprise. “What did you do?”
“I was just talking,” Charlie said. “Do you think it’s voice activated?”
“That would explain why there aren’t any switches or buttons,” Marianne agreed. “Look, the popcorn is starting to pop!”
The popcorn quickly filled their bowl. Soon, it was overflowing. “We need to make it stop,” Charlie said, as he held his hands around the top of the bowl, trying to keep the popcorn from spilling. “Stop, popper, stop!”
The popper stopped. “There, you see. It is voice activated,” Marianne said. “How clever of Cousin Reginald. We’ll have to send him a thank you card.”
“But what were the commands?” Charlie asked. “We should write them down so we don’t forget.”
“Let me get a new bowl first,” Marianne said. “We don’t want the popcorn to get all over. We still need to add the butter, too.”
Once the new bowl was in place, Charlie leaned close to the popper. “Start, popper,” he said firmly. Nothing happened. “Popper, go.” Nothing. “I want popcorn.” Nope. “Popper, pop.”
The popper whirred to life and began to fill the bowl. Isaac frowned. “Wait, we didn’t put any more popcorn kernels in. This isn’t quite right. And who ever heard of a voice activated popcorn popper?”
Marianne laughed. “Well, it may be silly, but voice activated things usually are, right?”
“Yeah, there was that story about the old lady with the voice activated pasta pot, right?” Charlie said. “I liked that story.” He looked at the popper. “Oh, wait. Popper, stop.”
The popper stopped. “At least that’s easy to remember,” Marianne said. “The commands rhyme. I remember the pasta pot story. And wasn’t there one about a rice pot or dumplings or something? Voice activated kitchenware has been around a long time.”
“Those were stories about magic,” Isaac pointed out.
Marianne laughed as she tossed the melted butter into the popcorn. “That’s just another name for science, right?”
“Right,” Charlie said. “Let’s go watch the dinosaur movie. It’s been a while since we saw it in the theater.”
“It’s in the machine, waiting for us to push play,” Marianne said. “Maybe we can ask Cousin Reginald to make it voice activated too?” She picked up one of the bowls and turned to leave.
Charlie laughed and grabbed the other bowl and followed her out.
“But there weren’t enough kernels in there for all of that popcorn,” Isaac said. They were already out the door.
He looked back at the machine and shrugged. Then he unplugged it. “I guess this is safe enough. As long as we don’t forget the voice commands.” He got a permanent marker from the kitchen drawer and wrote them on the side of the popper.
Then, he followed them to the living room to watch the dinosaur movie. The popcorn was delicious.