A relaxing Saturday night at home, I was cooking a pot of spaghetti, all was well with the world, so I thought a finger or two of fine Kentucky Bourbon over a couple of ice cubes would be appropriate.
I had an unopened bottle of Knob Creek at hand, so I peeled away the wax around the neck and pulled out the cork. I guess the glass was cracked, or it was a faulty bottle, because the instant the cork popped, the bottom fell out, and the contents of the entire bottle flowed out over the countertop, down the sides of the counter between the stove on one side and the refrigerator on the other, and all over me from the waist down.
The first thing that went through my mind was, “Shit, it’s going to really suck cleaning this up…” A fraction of a second later what went through my mind was, “Shit, all the fine Kentucky bourbon is on the floor now!”
I carried the bottle over to the sink and laid it down and turned around to go back to the boiling pasta, and much to my surprise and dismay, the entire countertop and floor were on fire.
I know what you’re thinking, “yeah dimwit, spill a 50% alcohol mixture near an open flame, that’s what’s going to happen!” But, A) I didn’t pay attention in science class – really, I didn’t – and B) It didn’t occur to me that the spill would make the leap to the open stovetop flame.
Had I had my scientific wits about me, yeah, I would have killed the flame before going to the sink. That would have been the smart thing to do. Which is why I didn’t do it, I suppose.
So. Everywhere the bourbon had spilled was on fire. A fire in your house is a weird thing. It’s very unreal, kind of dreamlike, and your reactions are very primal. But unfortunately the primal me is no smarter than the modern day me, so the first thing I did was throw a pot of water on the flames.
Which, as you know (since you were paying attention in science class) just spreads an alcohol fueled fire out further. Makes it bigger. And yep, that’s exactly what it does! Science is right again.
Luckily the primal me also somehow remembered that we have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, so in a kind of auto-pilot-emergency-trance I pulled the extinguisher from the wall mount, popped the pin and unloaded the fucker at the base of the flames in one awe-inspiringly smooth and effective two or three second motion.
Those dry chemical fire extinguishers are pretty effective. The fire was put out immediately, and all that was left was a giant cloud of chemical fire retardant, a couple of scorched appliances and cabinets, a stove spewing gas (the extinguisher extinguishes everything in it’s path, including pilot lights), three-quarters of a liter of cooked bourbon, and one king-sized extra jumbo cleanup.
Carol walked into the toxic cloud, looked around and calmly said, “So I take it dinner is ruined?”
You have no idea how many small things are in your kitchen until you have to empty the countertops, drawers and cabinets to clean chemical fire retardant off of everything. Not to mention the general filth and ugliness that you try to ignore underneath and behind things like stoves and refrigerators until you have to move them to mop up a sludge consisting of singed liquor and fire extinguisher chemicals.
Four and a half hours and a lot of sweat and slop later, the kitchen was pretty much back to normal. Everything is back where it belongs and the only thing to hint that something isn’t quite right (not counting the burn marks on the cabinetry next to the stove – don’t tell the landlord) is the lingering aroma of fine Kentucky bourbon that soaked into the wood cabinet, which will probably be with us for a few days.
I suppose there is a lesson to be learned here. Damned if I know what it is though.