I used to want to be a chef.

I mean, I think there’s still some part of me–I think there will always bee some part of me–that still wants to. But, I’m not good in a kitchen.

Now, I don’t mean that I can’t cook. I’m a damn good cook, actually. I make the best chocolate chip cookies anyone has ever eaten. No one understands how they come out so good, because I just use the recipe on the back of the Nestle chocolate chips bag, but everyone always goes, “Mine never come out this good!”

I’m a damn Foodie Faerie, alright.

When I say I’m not good in a kitchen, I mean I am literally not good in a kitchen. I set things on fire.

Horrible, horrible fire.

The first time I set a kitchen on fire, I was twelve. I either had the day off school, or stayed home sick, or just ditched. I decided I wanted to melt down some wax drippings I had to make fresh candles, because that was a thing I liked to do. So, I filled a glass container with wax bits, stuck it in a small pot of boiling water, and waited. As I waited, I got distracted and all the water boiled out of the pot. Oops, little twelve year old me thought.

So, I turned off the burner and grabbed the tongs to take the hot glass container out of the pot, so I could do another one. Except, I hadn’t realized there was still adhesive on the bottom of the glass from the label that had melted onto the bottom of the pot, so when I tried to lift the container, the pot came with it. This was, of course, too heavy for the tongs to properly hold and it slipped, spilling hot wax all over a hot electric burner.

Which promptly caught fire.

I cleared the fifteen feet through the dining/living room to the front door in about three steps. Then I stopped and realized I couldn’t just leave. There were cats and also my mother would probably kill me if I burned down the apartment. So, I went back to the flaming kitchen, grabbed a pot of water from the sink, and threw it onto the stove.

Sidebar: DON’T EVER DO THIS, KIDS. Most stove fires are caused by oil or grease igniting and water only pushes it around. Also, don’t throw water onto electric things; that’s generally bad.

The fire flamed up before it went out, leaving the stove a wet, waxy mess.

My mom was not happy.

The second time I set a stove on fire, I was making tortilla chips at two in the morning. I was sixteen and had just dropped out of high school the first time, so I wasn’t bound by the social laws of sleeping at night. I wanted fresh tortilla chips, so I decided I wasn’t bound by knowing how to cook a certain thing, either.

I knew I needed to heat up oil in a pan and put tortillas in it. Not that hard. Except, it was a rather shallow pan and I had a penchant for wearing sleeveless shirts around the house. When I laid down the first tortilla, oil splattered all over my arm, burning like hell. In a panic, because I’d never fried anything before, I thought, “No, this can’t be right,” and pulled the sputtering pan of oil off the still hot burner. Of course, some spilled and caught fire.

Luckily, this one burned out quickly because it was just a little bit of oil.

The third and fourth kitchen fires I started were around the age of eighteen or nineteen. Both happened in a dishwasher. Both happened while the dishwasher was running. Did you know that some dishwashers have (semi?) exposed heating coils? Did you know that when a plastic measuring spoon falls on those heating coils they melt and catch on fire? I didn’t, but I learned. Twice.

Due to the nature of dishwashers, any small, accidental fires started in them are usually self-extinguished. But, it is very confusing to open your dishwasher and find ash remnants.

Today’s was by far the worst, though. I was heating up some oil for frying this morning–I’m so stressed and just… ugh… I forgot what it was I planned to cook–and went to my bedroom to check something real quick. Of course, I got distracted and forgot all about the pan of hot oil on the stove.

Until the fire alarm started going off.

When I opened my bedroom door, it looked like night time. The smoke was so thick. I could already see flickering orange reflecting off the white walls before I got down the hall. My pan of oil had caught on fire.

The alarm was screaming. The cats were screaming. I was panicking. The flames were high. They were touching the oven mitts hanging above the stove, so I thought for sure those were also on fire.

I tried to throw the lid on the pan, but it just kind of bounced off and flipped upside down in the pan, so that was useless. And also ruined. For some goddamn absurd stupid ignorant ass reason, we don’t have a small fire extinguisher. We will be getting one tomorrow. But, in the meantime, what did I do? How could I put this out?

Don’t throw water on it. It’s oil. That would be bad.

But a wet towel? That will smother the flames without pushing the oil around. So, I soaked a dish towel in the sink and threw that on top of the pan. It took a few seconds, and for a couple there I thought it wouldn’t work and the towel would catch on fire and make everything ten times worse. But, the flames died down and I was able to pull the pan off the burner.

So, step one done. Then I started opening the windows and searching fruitlessly for the cat carriers, so I could put the cats outside. But, alas, the cat carriers were in mom’s car, which was with my mom. So, I settled for opening all the (very few) doors and windows and turning on the fans.

There is no way to turn off a screaming fire alarm, so I just had to deal with that. Unfortunately, so did the cats. When I tried to pick Pufa up to carry him to my bedroom, which was relatively smoke free, he slashed my wrist all up and ran back into the very smoke filled living room.

By that point, I couldn’t breathe, so I could only go sit out on the balcony and hope the cats would come join me. They kind of did, eventually. But, mostly, Mufa just stayed under the bed while Pufa kind of wandered aimlessly through the smoke-fill apartment, proving he has no survival skills whatsoever (and further fucking up my lungs as I kept running back in to herd him back towards more well ventilated areas).

I called my mom and she was just happy I was okay. She came home from her job interview and kind of cleaned up the mess a little bit. By that point, most of the smoke had dissipated, so that’s good.

By some lucky twist of fate, the damage is pretty minor. The overhead stove light cover will probably need to be replaced, our salt shaker is a little misshaped, and my cast iron skillet is ruined beyond repair with a poly-blend dishtowel melted to the bottom and the plastic handle of a pot lid melted inside. I never had much luck with that skillet anyway, so good riddance. But, the cupboards and stove itself are okay, just dirty. So that’s good.


Three hours later and I’m still coughing up ash, but I can breathe okay and my throat isn’t as sore as it was an hour ago. I don’t think I’m any worse off than when I was fifteen and went trick-or-treating with my friends during the big wildfires of 2003.

Another sidebar: Don’t go trick-or-treating when almost a million acres of your city is burning, kids. I don’t care how much you love Halloween or how cool your costume is. I was sick for weeks after that.

So, that was my morning. How’s your day going, so far?

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