Where there’s smoke


All things considered, I think that the moment you are shouting “fire” is not likely to rank among your finest culinary accomplishments. Although you will not get that impression from THIS story, I am a good cook. Usually.

Frankly I have always been leery around bacon. It spatters grease while cooking and foods that fight back have always made me jumpy. I am not a fan of flammable foods. Still, in Mr. Wonderful’s absence recently, I bravely soldiered in to the task of making bacon. This was a mistake.


I set the burner on medium low and used a nice heavy pan. One second the meat was crisping away, smelling divine. The next it was as if I was sauteing a nice pan of gasoline. The entire pan burst into flames. These were not sissy little “toss a towel on it” flames. This was an orange ball of fire exploding two to three feet into the air.

I should mention that I live in an old house. The kitchen, as a result, makes very little sense. The stove is positioned directly underneath painted wood cabinets. The only thing between the flames licking the front of the painted wood and the entire kitchen wall catching fire was pure hope and air. The air that was currently feeding the flames. (See who paid attention in science class?)


This is the point where I give a shout-out to Mr. Wonderful. It is helpful, if you are going to set fire to your house, to marry a former Boy Scout turned firefighter. They take “Be Prepared” very seriously indeed and keep things like fire extinguishers handy.

Furthermore, Mr. Wonderful has seen me in times of trouble and knows that my predicted reaction of flapping my arms in panic and running around like a chicken with my head cut off would only fan the flames.

So, just as the orange ball of flame was visible enough in the next room to bring Boywonder running, and Girlwonder running to save the cat, I reached into the pantry where we keep our one, dusty, fire extinguisher. I wasn’t panicked. I was feeling quite calm. I was more embarrassed really. All I could think is “I am NOT going to be the woman who burned down her house COOKING. I’ll never live it down.”


Thus armored with saving face, if not my house, I blasted the heck out of the entire stove area with my new favorite kitchen tool: the fire extinguisher. Oh sweet chemical miracle. Gooey brown grease, blackened bacon bits and smoke flew everywhere but the flames, blessedly, went out.

Unfortunately the smoke just kept rolling in thick waves throughout the kitchen. Apparently a fire extinguisher makes little impact on smoke. Thinking quickly, I fled the kitchen, and slammed the French doors to the room behind me. I had some idea to “contain” the smoke.

The kids and I then stood outside the kitchen, numbly looking in to a room so dense with smoke that we couldn’t make out the fixtures just inches inside the door. It’s actually something to see if you aren’t actively engaged in choking to death. At this point I remembered that I was the grown-up at home and ostensibly charged with “fixing” things.


As a writer my default is “over share.” A thing has not truly happened unless it has been shared. Before the smoke had cleared I was already on the phone reporting to my sweet husband, in the same tone I might ask him to pick up milk, “so I set fire to the kitchen … “

Mr. Wonderful, true to his nature, laughed. Out loud. I don’t think he was understanding the MAGNITUDE of things. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face as I was opening the window and propping up a fan.

At this point I did think to question why none of our smoke detectors had gone off? He said “well you need enough smoke to trigger one of those things.” Oh really dear? Because I’m thinking that at the point that you have to crawl out on your hands and knees — we’re there.

Eventually the smoke cleared and some elbow grease, vinegar and lemon cleaner has it smelling only vaguely strange. As if, perhaps, a pickled citrus factory caught fire. What makes any marriage work is a clear division of duties. In this case, he brings home the bacon, I fry it up in a pan, and, apparently set fire to it too.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt reminds you to check all smoke detectors and buy a fire extinguisher today. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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