Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How To Asphyxiate Yourself Without Trying

This story can probably be filed in the "Perhaps, my father was right, I am too stupid to live alone" file.

Last night, I arrived home late from work, and tiredly placed a frozen dinner* into the oven**. I noticed something smelled kind of funny, but figured damn, I guess this will be the first and last time I try the Roasted Chicken Ravioli, and continued the project of opening my mail. The smell only got worse. What the hell? Did I forget to remove the frozen meal from the paper box? Was the plastic tray melting? I opened the oven to check and thick, black smoke came billowing out. Wha???

Having never used this feature before, I looked to see if my oven had a fan. It did, and I quickly turned it to high. But I didn't crack the oven, because I still wanted my dinner to cook. I also switched my Air Conditioner from A/C to fan. I tried to go back to my mail. Let's see what colors Land's End is pimping this fall. The smell of burning continued. My eyes were watering and when I looked up, a thick black cloud of smoke was hovering in my apartment. Oh Christ.

I turned off the oven and opened the door. I could just barely make out something brown on the bottom of my oven that was burning, then I was overcome, gasping for breath. I ran to the front room to open the windows, which meant that first I had to unlock the gated bars that go across my windows. Afterall, I live on the ground floor in the city, it was only the second time I've ever opened these bars and my windows. I turned on my little fan. I now had three fans going but none of them we exhaust fans, so essentially all I was doing was blowing the smoke around. Then I ran to the back of my apartment to the bathroom, through the kitchen, coughing through my shirt pulled over my face. My eyes were red and burning. I opened the window in the bathroom and tried splashing cool water on my face which did absolutely nothing.

What the hell was burning in my oven? There was no spilled cake batter or anything I could think of from the day before. I ran back to the front room to take in big gulps of fresh air from the open windows. Where had I seen this behavior before? Oh yes. I was reminding myself of a gigantic cockroach, right as I would spray the hell out of it with Raid it would get all confused and run around in circles. Roach, know thyself! I started having an internal monologue with myself that went something like this, "okay Nancy, you had better pull it together otherwise you are about to die in a really stupid way".

I realized I should probably evacuate my apartment, but then I had just opened the windows and unlocked the gates and as I said, I live on the ground floor. I know that there is nothing worth stealing in my place, but I kind of prefer that people take my word for it and not hop in to see for themselves. So the thought of me going to the bar a few block down the street while appealing, made me nervous. I could go outside and sit on the stoop, but part of me expected something in my apartment to burst into flames next, and I kind of wanted to be around to see that when it happened.

While I was standing there, mulling over my options, in the back of my head I kept thinking, Isn't something supposed to happen when your apartment fills with smoke like, like, like a smoke detector sounding? Hey, why the hell isn't my smoke detector going off? I remember in the days before I moved into my apartment going over final things that needed to be done with my Broker. I remember specifically listing the smoker detector and the Carbon Monoxide Detector. I looked at my smoke detector. Yep there it was. Hmm. Shouldn't the little red light be blinking? You know, just to let me know that it is active? Wait, was I supposed to put the batteries in that myself? Oh shit.

One hour later, most of the smoke had cleared out. My dinner was ruined and went right into the trash. There was a sticky brown substance on the bottom of my oven that had started all this. What was it? I'm telling you, it wasn't anything I can think of from project Bake Sale and it gave off kind of a toxic odor as it burned. "Buy batteries for smoke detector" is on my to-do list. Dinner was Chex-Mix and Ice Cream. What the hell. I couldn't afford anything in Land's End anyways.

*Don't judge me.
**Because I don't own a microwave.


Vanessa said...

I'm sorry, I can't help this: What? No microwave? I think I'd give up my call waiting for a microwave if I had too, and I'm in love with call waiting. Get thee to a Target and buyest thee a microwave.

Glad your apartment didn't catch fire, an glad you're okay, really!

jesse said...

FYI- there is a certain no-microwave chic that is circulating amongst the hip kids.

In both my most recent living situations, the avante-garde roommates had no microwaves and carried a certain haughty disdain for people who do. Or at least for me. Honestly I think they're all just envious of my instantly prepared Gladware leftovers.

mondo said...

i dont have a microwave...not so much a hip thing (that i am *not*) but a cost thing. long live ovens. you know they are good for toast too??

Cupcake said...

I too like to pretend that not having a microwave was a hip, informed choice that I made. Sometimes this works. Left-over Chinese food heated up on the stove is not that bad.

Baking a frozen meal for 30 minutes at 350 degrees does suck pretty bad though.

Seriously, does anyone know what this brown sticky stuff on the bottom of my oven is? It looks like something you would find dripping from the ceiling at the Spring Street Subway Station.

Kari said...

Were your racks dirty? Because maybe if they had some kind of stuck on goo it dripped. Or if it is a gas stove, life the stove top up and see if you had ook living on the bottom part and if it dripped down a hole and landed on the bottom of your oven. Those are my only ideas. Unless a mouse was living in there.

We have our first microwave and only because it is built into our kitchen wall. Othewise we wouldn't have one. I use an electric kettle for tea/coffee and a toaster oven for everything else. I even make popcorn on the stove top. And I agree, whenever I have a hankerin' for an Amy's Organic Buritto, I used to have to put it in the over for 45 minutes. Suck.

Glad you're okay Other Cupcake.

Super Skater said...

Oh man. This is what happens when you try to live the like 2005 equivalent of the Boxcar children. When I was little I used to beg my mother to have milk poured over white bread for an afterschool snack. Why? Because that's what the Boxcar children had for a really special treat. And you know what? It was terrible. Snacktime ruined. So what does this teach you? Stop trying to live in a boxcar and succumb to the microwave! This is 2005! And Target is so close by! You can do it!

Tina said...

lol, I have the opposite problem a microwave and no gas. I figured my oven was so small why bother hooking up the gas... but I'm starting to want spaghetti and I found out the hard way you can't make that in the microwave. ;)

Good luck in removing the 'substance' from the bottom of your oven. And hey Chex mix and ice cream are good for you. As is Ramen. ;)