It was a warm summer afternoon way, way back in 1994. Revis and I were in the living room watching….something I don’t remember. My mom decided she wanted to make onion rings. So she went into the kitchen and started to, you know, make onion rings.
Now, my mom had (and still does) a history of failures in the kitchen. From biscuits you could stone one with to pizza with uncooked dough, you could literally make a kitchen comedy of errors book based on her experiences. (In fact, just yesterday my sister-in-law asked if something was burning and I had to answer her that mom was cooking.)
Never before, though, had our very lives been jeopardized by her cooking debility.
Back to the story. Mom had been in the kitchen for a few minutes when she decides that she, uh, can’t hold it any longer. She walked through the living room and asked Revis and I to keep an eye on the onion rings. Being the lazy teenagers we were, we politely nodded, and kept watching TV.
A few minutes later, mom’s disembodied voice came soaring from the bathroom, demanding one of us to check on the onion rings. Revis and I looked at each other.
“You’re closer,” I said. And my logic prevailed.
Revis got up and headed for the kitchen. He stopped just short of entering the kitchen before dispassionately proclaiming, “Uh, fire.”
As if waiting for Revis’ deadpan proclamation, the fire alarm immediately started blaring.
I jumped off the couch and ran to the kitchen where flames 3 feet high were leaping off of the frying pan on which my mother had been attempting to make onion rings.
“Where’s the fire extinguisher?” I shouted.
From the bathroom I could hear my mother yell, “It’s in here!”
What the fuck?
Then I remembered. That’s where it had been when we moved in. What a stupid place to keep a fire extinguisher. And even dumber that we left it there.
I ran to the bathroom to get the extinguisher. The door was locked. I pleaded for my mom to open the door so I could get it. Instead, she quickly opened the door and tossed it out.
I scooped the extinguisher up and ran back to the kitchen where I came upon one of the dumbest things I have ever seen in my life.
My step-dad had a friend who we’ll call Jeremy – because, hey, that’s his name – who often stayed at our house because living at home with his parents was evidently too burdensome. He had walked into the house between the time I left the kitchen to retrieve the extinguisher and the time I returned with it. He quickly assessed the situation, albeit quite stupidly, and deduced that he couldn’t wait for me to return with the extinguisher because by that time the drywall would catch fire.
So what did our heroic, yet naively idiotic Jeremy do? Well, he decided to take the frying pan, dancing flames and all, outdoors.
When I returned with the extinguisher Jeremy was halfway through the dining room with a frying pan engulfed in flames.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked, stunned that he was doing something so massively stupid. Had I been a cartoon character, my jaw would have slammed down on the floor.
“I had to get it out of there before the wall caught on fire. I’m taking it outside and we can put it out there.”
That was his brilliant plan, folks. Take the fire outside. Making the worst idea ever even more insane was the fact that we were on the second floor of a three-story apartment complex. So not only would Jeremy have to get the flaming frying pan out of the apartment, he would have to carry it down an entire flight of steps to get it outside.
My brother had already opened the front door for him and by this time there was a crowd of occupants staring into the door to witness the very same True-TV stupidity I was dumbfounded by.
Extinguisher in hand, I told Jeremy to put the damned pan down so I could put out the fire. I very obviously couldn’t use it while he’s so close to the fire.
Jeremy finally made a stunning realization. Well, stunning to him. The rest of us came to the same conclusion as soon as we saw what he was doing.
“This is too hot. I’m not going to make it!” he exclaimed.
No shit, Sherlock.
I again pleaded with him to put down the pan so I could use the extinguisher.
Jeremy decided he needed to get the pan back into the kitchen. So he slowly started walking the flaming pan back into the small kitchen.
Just as he entered the kitchen, a large flare shot from the frying pan in his general direction. That frightened him and he reacted in the worst possible way. He tossed the frying pan into the kitchen sink. When he did so, fiery grease flew out of the frying pan…and ran up his arm.
Amid the painful screams Jeremy still did not move so I could extinguish the fire. Instead, he quickly grabbed a huge bag of flour, which had been sitting on the counter the entire time, and doused the pan, extinguishing the fire.
“Why the fuck didn’t you just do that to begin with?” I asked him incredulously.
“I don’t know,” he answered, writhing in pain.
The frying pan was ruined. As was the wall above the stove, which was now charred black.
Jeremy had to be driven to the hospital where he was treated for second and third degree burns. Eventually, his arm would heal and function properly again. The lasting damage was to his ego. He at least had a sense of humor about it and laughed when we made fun of him for pulling the dumbest stunt we had ever witnessed. For as long as we knew Jeremy we never let him live his idiocy down. Who thinks, “man, I need to pick up this flaming frying pan and get it out of here” and then actually tries to do it? Well, Jeremy, that’s who. It was quite an amazing display of dumbassery.
We’ve never let mom live that moment down, either. How do you catch a frying pan on fire while you’re taking a dump?