The Ramen Story

As my sister reminded me, she hasn’t given permission for the public dissemination of this story, so please consider all events described here as speculative in nature; my vague and very likely inaccurate after-the-fact understanding of purely hypothetical happenings. Any relation to actual events is intended exclusively for comic entertainment.

First, a bit of background. As I suppose is the case with many children of military families, mine moved from place to place when I was very young, starting in Iowa, then to Georgia, next to Germany, and then back to Maryland. We stayed in Germany until I was in the second grade, and the important part of that experience to this story is that there was hardly any children’s television that I could watch there. As an officer in the Army Dental Corps, my father’s family could live off base, and so we did, in a small German town, and we got the local German television which was almost exclusively not in English.

But this story isn’t about our time in Germany. It is instead about a time after we moved back to the US from Germany, to Maryland, where we had a television that did get prolific amounts of children’s programming, specifically on Saturday mornings, when my parents would be sleeping in, and so there were no adults around to tell us to turn off the television and do our homework or go outside.

Thanks to this lack of adult supervision, I quickly learned at exactly what time the Saturday morning cartoons that I liked to watch started, and my Saturday morning ritual became waking up just before that time and going downstairs to watch my cartoons, which would stay on until about noon, when I would resignedly turn off the television and go do something else.

However, as with most stories, this one isn’t exclusively about me, the protagonist, but it also includes my two younger sisters. My youngest sister, Mary, has always gotten up early, and so she would wake up with me on Saturday mornings and I would fix some food for us, perhaps some cereal, and then we would watch television together.

My middle sister, Angela, on the other hand (please keep in mind that similarities in names to actual sisters are purely coincidental) has always, even to this day so far as I know, enjoyed sleeping in. And so after Mary and I were well fed and watching our cartoons, Angela would come sauntering down the stairs expecting some food for herself.

This story is about one of those Saturdays, when Angela woke up late, as usual, and came downstairs hungry. She strut into the living room, up next to the couch where Mary and I were watching TV, and my imagined memory of the conversation that transpired went something like this:

Angela, “Theron, I’m hungry.”

Me, “I see.”

“I want to eat something.”


“I want to eat ramen.”


“I want you to cook me ramen.”


“Why not?”

“You can make your own ramen.”

“I don’t know how.”

“There’s instructions. Read the instructions.”

“I can’t read.”

“There’s pictures. Look at the pictures.”

“Oh.” After this, Angela (not my real sister Angela, mind you, but a fictional character with a surprisingly similar name to hers) stalked off into the kitchen and I kept my eyes glued to the television.

About two or three minutes later, Angela came back out of the kitchen and asked, “How long do I cook the ramen?”

My reply was “Three minutes.”

Two minutes later a scream comes from the kitchen, “Theron! Theron! It’s on fire! It’s on fire!”

I jump up from the couch, run into the kitchen, and find a cup of ramen in the microwave, with the microwave still running, and the styrofoam blackening, melting, bubbling, and smoking. I hit the stop button, open the machine, grab the ramen cup with oven mitts, throw it in the sink, then run water over it. Once the smoking has stopped, I turn to my sister and ask, “Why didn’t you push stop?”

Tearfully, she replies, “I don’t know! I don’t know!”

Being the protagonist, I then proceeded to make her a cup of ramen that didn’t smoke, blacken, and bubble, and we both breathed a sigh of relief that neither of us had woken our parents as a result of the episode. Or at least that’s how this story is ending, since I’m the one writing it.

The problem, if you haven’t figured it out by now, was that she took the empty ramen cup and put it in the microwave for three minutes without adding any water to it. Or, rather, I should say that the Angela in this story did that, not my actual sister Angela, whose middle name is in fact different from the Angela I’m talking about here.

Wondering why I wrote this?

I share stories with my students during class, what Tim Murphey calls split stories, where I stop right at the climax and students have to wait to hear the rest of the story, and guess at the endings for themselves. This story I stop at the, “It’s on fire!” part and then students have a week to think about the story.

The next steps involve the students narrating the stories themselves into videos, and some have remarked that they didn’t fully understand the stories, and so wanted to be able to read them. And so here I am, writing some of them out. I seems a waste to write them only for my students, though, so I’m blogging about them here so more eyes can enjoy them than just the students enrolled in my classes.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you thought about the story, either here or wherever else you happened to have found a link to get to here.