It's week 3 of Flogger Blogger Wednesday. You know the drill by now, person/people, so let's get our guilt on.
The Darwin Awards are doled out annually to those poor saps who have died thanks to an act of staggering stupidity. Say you drink gasoline accidentally (sure, it could happen) and afterward, to soothe your palate, you light a cigarette. Well, congrats on your Darwin Award!
Honestly, I have a hard time being entertained by these kinds of stories, because every idiot is somebody's idiot son or idiot daughter. I only bring up the dubious honor because there's a good chance the honor will one day be bestowed upon me.
For a woman who is paid to navigate the minute and complex world of grammar, I would probably burn to death before I even noticed that my own ass was on fire. To be more specific, when I hear a suspicious noise coming from my car, my first reaction is to turn the radio up -- not because I don't want to deal with impending mechanical failure, but because it never occurs to me that the noise is anything other than an intrusion on my sweet jams. The engine may be actively falling out of the car, but Justin Timberlake and I are too busy bringing sexy back to notice.
If I were a lone dummy, then my future Darwin Award winner status might not trouble me so deeply. We've all gotta go someday, and why not go while butchering the lyrics to "Wrecking Ball" as the wheels fall off my Civic? But I'm not a lone dummy. I'm a dummy plus one. A mom. And my kid is counting on me to tap into those long-dormant survival instincts, which is why what follows is so bad. So, so bad. "Flogger Blogger" might not be able to handle this. But "Self-Immolation Blogger" doesn't really roll off the tongue.
So, a few weeks ago, my friend LeNaya and I grabbed lunch at a local cafe. LeNaya had her two daughters in tow, and I brought along Pork Chop. We settled in, flanked by high chairs, and tried to chat while swatting baby hands away from cutlery and drinks. It was like our heads were having friend time while our torsos were actively wrestling wild animals.
But LeNaya exudes a kind of Zen grace. If she's sweating something, you'd never know it. By comparison, I wear my ineptitude on my sleeve. So when LeNaya, pointing to my son, calmly asked, "What's he doing?" I glanced over at my son, whose mouth was agape, whose eyes were clenched, and responded, "Oh, big yawn. Must be naptime!"
LeNaya leaned forward in her chair, looked hard at my son, then at me, and said, "I don't think he's yawning. I think he's choking." And, still, I hesitated for a moment. My hand was hovering near the volume knob.
Had she really said "choking"? She looks so calm. She's not even yelling. Maybe she said "joking"? Like, maybe she thinks Sam is fake choking? I wouldn't put that past him.
Finally, I did snap to, grabbing my kid's face and jamming a finger in his mouth just as he gagged up bread. Pork Chop was thankfully none the worse for the experience, and went on only moments later to stick a pickle spear up his nose. I, on the other hand, burst into a fit of what can only be called the shame giggles and started sucking down my ice tea like it had magically turned to booze.
You'd think the choking episode would have cleared some of my cobwebs. You'd think. But you sure as hell don't win a Darwin Award by thinking. Which brings us to last week.
On Friday night, I put Pork Chop to bed while Shelby picked up Chinese take-out. I was looking forward to complaining that there was nothing to watch on TV while scarfing down Chicken of Two Flavors. I was setting out plates and pouring drinks, happily anticipating a night of sloth, when my husband walked in the door. He quickly dropped the bag of food and sniffed the air.
"Do you smell something burning?" he asked.
"Yeah, ya know, now that you mention it, I noticed a burning smell a little while ago."
Shelby blinked, then looked toward the stairwell to our basement. "A little while ago?"
We ran down the stairs to find our basement filled with smoke. Yet we could find no fire. Shelby grabbed a flashlight and started poking behind the dryer, behind the hot water heater, into the duct work. Nothing.
I will have you know that the next thing I did was check on Pork Chop, who was, in fact, still in his crib upstairs, breathing easy. Next I told Shelby to call 911. Then I told him to not call 911 . . . until I put on a bra. Because, well, priorities.
As it turns out, an adjacent townhome blew a fuse, which created a lot of smoke but no fire. We aired out the basement, reheated our chicken, and plopped down on the couch, where Shelby turned to me. "A little while ago? You smelled something burning a little while ago? Why didn't you do anything?" he asked. I giggled. I didn't have a good answer for him. I still don't.
Maybe I just couldn't smell the smoke over the sound of the radio.