From the moment I bought my first cast iron pan, my life hasn’t been the same. It was only little things at first. On day one, after I seasoned the pan to bring out its natural nonstick-ness, I started noticing that some of the pictures on my wall… just weren’t right. I still recognized the locations, but not all of the people in them. Who was this man with his arm around me during my college graduation? I tried telling myself that I was just tired and that it will all come back to me. But it never did.
The first time I cooked steak in my cast iron pan was when it really started. As I listened with delight to the hot iron searing the meat with its distinct sizzle, I looked at my arm and noticed a scar that I know wasn’t there before. I rushed to the bathroom to tend to it (why, I don’t know; from the looks of it, it’s been there for YEARS) when I nearly punched the mirror because I didn’t recognize the person in it. My hair and eyes were now a completely different color. How did this happen? WHAT has happened? Those were just some of the million questions dancing around in my head as I curled up on the bathroom floor, sobbing and listening to the sizzling skillet in the kitchen infusing my steak with iron.
I woke up many hours later in a daze. My dinner was ruined because of the cast iron pan’s incredible ability to retain heat. I decided to clean up. After scrapping the steak off the pan, I started dry washing it without having to resort to soap when my wife called me. I picked up immediately to tell her everything that’s happened. “Hi Mike,” she greeted me. Who the fuck was Mike? “No, it’s me,” I insisted but as she talked, I realized… it was still her, but she knew me as “Mike.” I hanged up and slumped to the floor. With shaking hands, I slowly fished out my driver’s license. Everything was wrong. My name, my date of birth…
I slapped myself. Hard. It hurt, more so because it proved that I wasn’t dreaming. I had to do something. The me from before was being erased from existence. And it all started with that goddamned cast iron pan.
In a fury, I grabbed the utensil and smashed it against the granite counter top, but it was useless. The pan was unharmed. This is the stuff they build engine blocks from. It was made to last for generations. It’s why you’ll often find them at garage sales or auctions. And it didn’t like being handled this way. Within seconds of attacking the skillet, I found myself on the floor of a rundown, roach-infested kitchen in some flophouse. I was now weaker, possibly much older, and I was missing an arm. The pan was angry. I gently put it away, and retreated panickily into the corner. But this wasn’t what it wanted. It… it needed someone to use it.
As I prepared to make a cake in it, exploiting the cast iron pan’s amazing ability to make both savory and sweet dishes, things started to get better. I was suddenly back in my own house, with my wife near me, and the two kids that we always talked about but never had. I didn’t challenge it anymore. I just smiled and went along with it, thinking of all the other ways my cast iron pan could literally change my life.