Sunday, August 12, 2012


Ok people. It has been a week. I think I've finally recovered enough emotionally to talk about the fire.

It all began with a visit from my sister. She's in Vancouver for three weeks before she starts her masters program in Utah, so I spent last weekend at my parent's house. We did the usual Lowe stuff (Target, craft stores, TV, eating, etcetera), and on Sunday we decided to barbecue after church. Since I mostly hate cooking but try not to be a completely deadbeat daughter, I volunteered to do the barbecuing. It was easy stuff--some chicken tenders and some salmon wrapped in foil.

Our barbecue is a propane gas bbq. And it's a little temperamental. For example, sometimes it refuses to get above 150 degrees for no apparent reason. So I put all three sections of the barbecue on high, hoping to coax it to cooking-practical temperatures. I put the salmon on first because it takes longest to cook. Then I added the chicken tenders, sprinkled on a little seasoning, and closed the lid. Thankfully, the thermometer on the bbq showed temperatures between 250 and 300, so there was a good chance the meat would cook evenly. I have a pretty solid bbqing reputation around my house (it's a pretty big deal), so I wanted to avert disaster.

The little chicken tenders cooked really fast with nice linear grill marks on either side. I cut tiny slits through the meatiest center of three different tenders to check for any pink. Perfection. As usual. I took them off the grill and went to tell my mom that I didn't know how to check whether the salmon was done or not (aka, I was way too lazy to open the foil and investigate the state of the salmon myself (I didn't say I wasn't a partial deadbeat daughter)). She said it probably needed a few minutes.

When I come back a few minutes later, my little heart begins pounding as I see the needle on the bbq thermometer sprinting past 450 degrees. I lift the lid slightly, and bright orange flames spring from the bottom. I quickly let the lid drop, and huge billows of dark gray smoke start an endless puff from the barbecue. I turn the dials to "off" for all three sections, but nothing changes. The temperature continues to rise, the smoke continues billowing. This clearly seems like panic time to me. I call for my mom. She leisurely makes her way to the back deck. "No, really, mom, the barbecue is going cah-razy. I think you should hurry!" This does absolutely nothing to whip her into action. She calmly walks to the bbq, opens the lid, and huge flames lap her entire arm. "See?!" I say. No reaction from her. She calmly turns off the propane tank and tells me to step back. "Mom! Did you see those flames engulf your arm? Do you see those huge billows of smoke?!" But all she says is "remain calm," as if to say "the only disaster here is the silly way you're reacting. There's absolutely no real danger here."

Turning off the propane tank has no affect. The temperature on the bbq now reads over 600 degrees and continues to rise. Huge, hot flames are visible through every crevice, and the smoke is getting darker and heavier. Ok, if the three different times my panic has escalated leading up to this moment weren't legit panicing moments, surely this is the time to panic. Or at least to take quick action. But instead, my mom slowly walks to the garage to get the fire extinguisher. Never has anyone moved so slowly. Ever. And I am left on the back deck with visions of the whole bbq erupting in flames and the propane tank exploding and our whole house burning to the ground.

My mom comes back with the extinguisher, opens the lid of the bbq and sprays down the huge flames. And then everyone calmly sits down at the kitchen table to eat the chicken tenders and flame-engulfed salmon, chatting about church.

"Um, are we just going to ignore that huge fire that just happened?" I ask in disbelief. "It wasn't that big of a deal," my mom says. "Those flames engulfed your arm! There were BILLOWS of smoke!"

"Yeah, I guess it did singe off quite a bit of arm hair."


Emily said...

Hahahah your portrayal of mom is perfection.

Lindsey Reynolds said...

This is hilarious. I only met your mom once, but she did seem very calm. I am glad your house didn't burn down. If it makes you feel any better, I probably would have been freaking out as well.

Sue said...

When you have seven children you either learn to be calm, or go crazy. I'll let you judge for yourself.

julie said...

And if my memory serves me correctly, mom was acting out of experience :)

Elisa said...

I would have lost it.