Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Fire

With our lives getting more and more hectic and with Warren back as a traveling archaeologist, I started researching when it is okay for the monkeys to stay home alone. In my column today, Leaving kids home alone a matter of responsibility, I mentioned the time, at age 9, that I started a fire in our house. I mentioned it not to say that starting a fire made me responsible, but that yes things might happen, but that they aren't always the end of the world. That if we raise our kids to be independent, they can handle tricky situations.

Anyways, I thought I'd give you the full scoop on the fire, because though I've always accepted blame, I don't think it was technically my fault!

My mom was out of town, so my dad and I were making dinner. We'd been on a French fry kick--a deep fried French fry kick. Things are a bit fuzzy, but at some point we covered the hot grease so that my dad could run to the store and get some more French fries. I suppose I was standing guard.

Well, the hot grease burst into flames. I called for my older sister to come downstairs and she thankfully stopped me from pouring water on the fire.

My mom used to store old grease in Folgers cans and then stack them in the cabinets above the stove. Wanna guess what happened next? Yep, the flames made it to the cabinet and all hell broke loose.

We didn't have a fire extinguisher and it was clear that it had gone beyond the level where we might get it out. I called the fire station (although my mom says my older sister claims to have done this). I CLEARLY remember that call. I was terrified. I think my dad got home before the firemen came, but I'm not sure.

I grabbed my school books, I have no idea why, and went outside. I probably hadn't done my homework yet! I wanted to get my teddy bear but he was upstairs and I was too scared to go up there. (I felt guilty about this for years, even though he was fine!)

We all stood in the front yard and waited for the firemen. I remember crying and the neighbors comforting me, so maybe my dad wasn't back?

Anyway, most of the damage came from the firemen hacking at the walls to make sure the fire was out, and the smoke. I felt awful and blamed myself, but it wasn't all my fault. Clearly my dad leaving while the grease was hot was mistake number one. My mom's storage of the grease was number two. The lack of a fire extinguisher number 3.

Now, I will say that everything turned out fine in the end. We got to eat in restaurants for three weeks while they fixed the kitchen. We got a major kitchen upgrade which helped us get more money when we eventually sold the house. We also got all new carpet and paint downstairs. It's for these reasons that I probably took credit/blame for the fire!

For the record, when and if I leave the monkeys home alone, there will be a no cooking rule.

Ed. note: My sister, after reading this, insists that we were 12 and that no one ever blamed me. She remembers it only as the "French fry incident" and says the fire started when my dad pulled the lid off of the pot. Ha! Guilty, much? Jeez.


Poopie said...

I think you were 12. I can remember being so amused at the phrase "Fry Daddy" it may have been the first time I had heard it. I always thought it was your fault, I associate it with you being home alone. But if you were home alone and your Dad came home then surely, Shirley, you would remember some sort of awful, terrible, hilarfious comment from him upon his return!!!

Sassy Molassy said...

We have a no cooking rule while we're not home!

Lone Star Ma said...

I accidentally set my room on fire when I was 16.

That said, I think Elliott was ten or eleven.

Stacey Greenberg said...

I looked elliott's age up! 9!

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