When I was in 6th grade my parents bought a couple acres of land. I was ecstatic. I recall sprinting up and down, up and down, up and down the stairs while screaming. What then constituted an appropriate demonstration of happiness would at this point in my life qualify as a week’s work-out.
They sold the only house I could remember having lived in and began building on our plot of land a ten minute drive away. In the interim, instead of being homeless or living in the storage unit they rented indefinitely, we moved in next door to a friend of ours. He had been in my kindergarten class, and then my brother’s, if that gives you any idea how long we had known him. I’ve known him as long as I have been afflicted with conscious thought, as far as I’m concerned. We packed up our lives, deposited most of it in boxes, and moved the remainder (what we simply couldn’t live without) into our considerably smaller temporary family headquarters.
The neighbor would climb onto the roof and into my bedroom. I would stir from my peaceful slumber to the ruckus one inevitably makes when climbing through another’s bedroom. When he did find success in noiselessly slinking through my window, I would soon after jolt alert to stuffed animals being caressed across my face.
One afternoon I resolved to make myself lunch. Directly reflecting my amazing proficiency in the kitchen, I actually had options. I could either assemble salad out of a bag, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or pasta noodles with butter and salt. I opted for the noodles. The water tumbled from the tap into the pot. I threw in some noodles and turned the stove on high. My vast experience advised me it would take approximately fifteen minutes until my feast would be soft enough to digest. I sat at the kitchen table.
I felt heat reflecting on my face. I smiled, close-lipped, relaxed. It was a nice feeling. Then I realized my eyes were closed. I had fallen asleep for conceivably a long time. My eyes shot open to reveal flames licking their way from the pot upward, climbing the refrigerator toward the ceiling. I sighed. And walked outside. My brother and our neighbor were playing basketball on the hoop in the cul-de-sac. I sauntered over.
“Hey boys,” I quasi-yelled. “There’s a fire in the kitchen. Can you help me put it out?”
My brother instantly caught the ball and turned to look at me, the ball clutched in his hands.
“What?” he asked.
“I’m serious,” I replied. “There’s a fire in the kitchen.”
The boys barreled to the front door and into the house. I followed closely behind. I entered the kitchen and filled a tall glass with water. The flames were contained within their initial location in the pot. The boys stood a short distance away, watching. I advanced five steps and did the only logical thing to do when there is a fire: I flung my glass of water on the blaze. Instantly sparks erupted, the inferno exploded, and the three of us hurdled backwards.
“It’s a gas fire!” the neighbor screamed. “DO NOT throw water on it! We need baking soda. NOW.”
I opened a cupboard, grabbed the baking soda, and shoved it in his outstretched hand. He poured massive amounts of white powder on the pot. As the powder consumed the flames the fire alarm went off and reverberated in our ears. Our neighbor lugged a chair beneath the smoke detector, climbed up, and demanded my shirt to wrap around the device. Without considering the logic in this, I ripped off my shirt and tossed it at his head. He caught it and smothered the detector in it. It couldn’t read the existence of any smoke. It occurred to me only after the alarm had ceased that my shirt really wasn’t a vital element in the incident.