Friday, April 11, 2008

You tell me.

How did this happen?


John woke up early this morning to get a 5:15am car to the airport for an 8:05am flight to Austin. I woke up and sat on the couch while he stuffed his toiletries in his bag, kissed him good-bye at the door, turned the lights out and went back to bed.

I woke at 6:30 to the sound of the fire alarm and the smell of burning plastic. Blind without my contacts, I raced around the apartment looking for likely suspects: the hair dryer, the iron (which was out because I've been sewing), even the electric toothbrush.

I grabbed my glasses and jacket and carefully opened the door to the hallway, but everything looked alright. I stepped back into the living room and there it was, shining from the kitchen, the bright blue glow of a stove burner on full blast. And on top of it, two dinner plates and the radiply deforming plastic splatter guard we use in the microwave.

Oh my god.

I ran in and turned off the burner and with a pair of tongs, grabbed the gooey plate cover and moved it to the sink. The bottom plate was shattered by the heat, the top one covered in melted plastic. A plastic cutting board propped between the wall and the stove had also warped but hadn't yet dripped. I woke just in time, and nothing stuck to the stove. Cleaning up is just a matter of throwing away.

The kitchen was the last place I thought to look because I hadn't cooked in two days. We ate Ethiopian with Ryan on Wednesday night and last night I took burgers to John's office.

How did this happen?

I asked the super to come up, and he said this happens all the time. He assured me that the stove can not turn itself on, and I am inclined to believe him, because the alternative is too terrifying. Even though you have to push and turn the knob simultaneously, it is easy to accidentally light the stove. His own son had done it recently. In the neighboring building, he said a cat had done it.

A cat?

Maybe. Or maybe John with an unwieldy bag? Or maybe me, in my sleepiness? I don't know.

The positives? The splatter guard was getting kind of nasty anyway, and I've always hated that cutting board. I'm deeply grateful to know that the smoke detector functions as something other than an annoyance when cooking steaks. I am thankful to have had the experience of waking in a panic, alone, in a truly dangerous situation, and to have survived it with nothing lost other than a few hours sleep and a few inexpensive plates.

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