I have a tale I’ve been meaning to tell. When I returned home the evening before Thanksgiving, I discovered my son, Joseph, looking shell shocked. His hair was standing on end. He was panting and covered in sweat, and he gave the impression of having finished a marathon. The closest thing I can think of to give you an idea of what I’m talking about is Beaker from The Muppet Show having a bad day.
For some reason, the first thing that popped into my mind was the expression “Fire in the hole,” which is commonly used to alert people that a controlled detonation is about to take place. The first cannons were fired by applying a flaming torch to a small hole packed with gunpowder. “Fire in the hole” was both a command to the man wielding the torch and a warning to anyone in the vicinity.
Once Joseph had quieted down and caught his breath, he explained what had happened. The day before, my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) had mentioned that we needed to clean the oven in anticipation of her preparing our Thanksgiving repast. Since I had been broiling quite a few steaks and burgers recently, I told her she should wait for me to give it a good wipe down to remove any grease before she ran the oven’s self-cleaning cycle.
Did she listen to me? Ha. Why is it that no one ever listens to what I have to say? It’s like casting pearls of wisdom before… creatures that don’t appreciate such things. The following afternoon, while I was still at work, Gina initiated the oven’s self-cleaning function and then merrily sailed out of the door on her way to the grocery store after instructing Joseph to “keep an eye on things.”
According to Joseph, it wasn’t long before thick, black smoke started pouring out of the oven. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a clue how to terminate the cycle. First, he opened the front and back doors to get a breeze blowing through the house… only to discover that it was a still and windless day.
While Joseph was contemplating his next move, the smoke detector in the hallway connecting the kitchen to the garage started to sound the alarm. Being well acquainted with the ramifications of his mother’s exuberant cooking techniques, Joseph immediately dragged a stool under the detector, mounted the stool, and started fanning the detector with a magazine. As soon as that detector had ceased its warbling, the one in the corridor at the other side of the family room took over. Joseph dragged his stool across the house and started fanning that little rascal. Then the detector in the master bedroom took up the call, quickly followed by the detector in Joseph’s bedroom. One thing you can say about our house is that it is in no way underequipped on the smoke detector front.
To cut a long story short, smoke kept on pouring out of the oven, and Joseph spent much of the next hour or so fanning one detector into submission, only to have the next one grasp the metaphorical baton and run with it. It was as if Joseph had invented a novel version of Whac-A-Mole.
Suffice it to say that Joseph is no longer a fan of self-cleaning ovens.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting