THE BIG FIRE
My father and I had a kind of love-argue relationship. I’m sure we loved each other. But, a day didn’t go by where we didn’t argue about one thing or another. One day, we got in trouble for all of our stupid fussing. Who did we get in trouble with you ask? The police? The town? Maybe the neighbors? Nope, no one like that but, one dark day we tugged on the very wrong end of superman’s cape. Actually, we both pulled hard on superwomans cape and paid the price. It was bound to happen that all of our fussing and fuming would sooner or later land us in hot water with the most powerful woman I ever knew. Yep, we ticked off Mom.
We were all just sitting in the kitchen having a beer. Mom kept a TV on the kitchen counter. We were probably watching the news as Mom fried some chicken for supper. I’m sure my father and I were arguing about some kind of politics. If I liked the left, he’d like the right. That is, until I liked the right and then he’d like the left and say how he always liked the left for as long as he could remember. Oh these were such stupid arguments.
Suddenly the grease in the frying pan caught fire. Mom always believed in the old adage, skimp on the grease and spoil the chicken. Her chicken was the best. But, right now, it was getting a little too crispy. The flames were about a foot high and the smoke alarm was screeching almost right away.
The old man and I dropped the beers and ran to the other end of the counter with our imaginary fire hats on. Mom backed away from the fire as the two of us grabbed the frying pan. Now, I may have the details a bit wrong as to who had exactly what plan to put out the fire. Suffice it to say that neither one of us was right. Let’s say I said to put water on the flames. Let’s also say that my father wanted to pour salt on the pan. We were, of course, both really wrong. In fact water on a grease fire is about the worst thing you can do. In any case, there we were yanking the frying pan back and forth sloshing flaming grease onto the kitchen table. Both of us yelling and in pain from burns as we wrestled with the flaming frying pan and hollering at each other. God, but our hands hurt.
Let me just pause the action a moment to say that if God was watching the two of us, He’d have been laughing his tail off. He’d have probably put us on the Heaven Jumbotron. I can hear him telling his angels to let those two idiots keep fighting. If the house catches fire or if they get hurt rescue them but for now, let them have at each other. Maybe lower the volume when the cussing gets too loud or much bluer.
My father held the pan hand grip with one charred hand as he struggled to get the salt shaker with his free hand. Me, by stretching to the sink, I almost had my water glass three quarters full. There were blisters all over my pan hand. Hot hunks of fried chicken batter were dripping off my charred pinky finger. Smoke was everywhere. We were both yelling for Mom to get outside.
Mom stood her ground watching us with her hands on her hips. She walked over to the counter and picked up the frying pans lid. She then got between us and put the lid on the pan. Like an obedient puppy who sits down quietly after being told calmly to be quiet, the fire just peacefully went out. My father and I just stood there with nerve damaged fingers looking at the pan. Mom went to the kitchen exhaust fan and turned it on. She then looked at us both and told us to put the pan on the table and go sit in the dining room. She’d be in to talk to us in a minute. We both left for the dining room as the fan started to remove the smoke. Boy our hands hurt. They hurt real bad.
My father and I just sat in silence. We were worn out. Mom came in shortly with a martini for my father and a rum and coke for me. Mom also had a martini for herself. It was half gone. She just looked at us and said, “Down the hatch you two.” She looked at my father. “We’re all going out for dinner, right!?” My father shook his head yes. Then mom looked at me. “How’s your hand?” I said it didn’t hurt too bad. “Good,” she said, “You can go and clean up that mess in the kitchen. You’re both sorry right?” We both kind of looked at the floor. Mom went on. “I’m not going to ask you two to shake hands but, you should. At least you’re both looking at the floor. That’s a start.”
The night went well and after a few drinks the burned fingers didn’t hurt a bit. We had a good meal. Seafood I think. I imagine by noon the next day, my father and I were arguing just as much as ever. Though we never argued about frying pan grease fires ever again. If one caught fire we just put a lid on it. It just made sense to do that.
THE BIG FIRE