When I was little, I apparently listened very carefully during fire safety lessons. I know this because one of my more shameful memories is the day that the fire alarm went off while I was in the bathtub. My young brain kicked into gear, turning over all the lessons I'd learned during after school specials and all those well- meaning PSA commercials given to us by the Mormons and the Loony Toons in the '80s. Like this:
Do you remember the one with Daffy Duck where they the family discussed the exits in case of fire? I'm pretty sure that was in my head, swirled in with stop-drop-and-roll and just-say-no. But whatever. All my child-brain knew was that the fire alarm was going off and I was in DANGER. I must head to the closest exit IMMEDIATELY or I would DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH OF PAIN AND FIRE. Towels? Towels get in the way and are flammable. So I did what every self-protective 6 or 7 or 8 year old would do-- I ran down the steps toward the front door just as God had made me. I was old enough to know better, but, my young self rationalized, better naked then burning, right?
There was no fire. My mom had probably burned something in the kitchen or one of my older siblings was trying to sneak cigarettes, but there was no fire. Just me. Wet. Safe. Dripping with bathwater and righteous humiliation.
Fast forward to tonight. I have the apartment to myself, so I thought a nice bath and a book would be the perfect way to unwind. So relaxing. So peaceful. Until there was a unidentifiable ROARING sound outside the bathroom, and a crash, and then a roaring just roaring on.
I'd like to say that when faced with a bath-time disaster 20 years later, my brain was a bit more rational.
I'd like to say that my first thought wasn't Murderer! followed by Banshee! followed by Burglar! With a . . . vacuum? Because that's what it sounded like, really, a mechanical- blowing-whirligig of terrifying sound. But that doesn't make sense, my brain told me. Burglars don't break through your door, cleaning supplies at the ready.
No. The vacuum is acting alone. It's gone rogue.
But I am proud to announce that at least THIS time, as I sprung into action, I grabbed a towel.
You see, after I'd discovered that my bastard cats somehow, despite the fact that they lack opposable thumbs, managed to TURN ON THE BLENDER (the roar!),and then, as they fled in petrified haste, knocked over and shattered a full bottle of olive oil and a mug (the crash!); after I'd retrieved my bathrobe and put on flip-flops to protect myself from broken glass; and after I'd used two rolls of paper towels to mop up gallons of olive oil from my now heart-healthy counter, cabinets, and floor; I discovered my towel was not hanging where I left it originally, but was now in a crumpled heap.
And reader, I was proud. I have come far.
Also, I now have really soft hands.