The freezer inventory said I had too much chicken. I had so much chicken that when it went on sale on Harris Teeter, I did not buy any. How much chicken did I have? More than twenty pounds of boneless skinless breasts. Also a couple of individual packs and a whole fryer. Chicken chicken chicken.

So I went to the internet to look at chicken section and pick out something I could make with chicken and the other things on my inventory. I settled on Sweet and Sour Chicken, seeing it as a good opportunity to expand my Chinese food repetoire. I prepped all the ingredients so it would all be ready to cook up when Josh got home. He was at the recording studio.

I also had a pot of mulled cider on the stove. Or I guess I had a pot of cider mulling, so that later it would be mulled. I suppose that makes me a muller. Ever since the wassail at Christmas, hot spiced beverages have been my new Saturday night thing. This one didn't even have any booze in it.

My sweet musician got home a little after nine, and I asked him to help with the chicken. Per the recipe, we heated a pan on the stove until it was VERY HOT. And then we added a tablespoon or so of sesame oil. Suddenly, there was a fire leaping a foot out of the pan. We both stared at it dumbstruck for a second. Fire? What? That was not in the instructions.

Josh picked up the pan by the handle, which seemed like a good idea, considering the kind of height the flames were getting. Except now he had a pan full of fire in his hand. He headed toward the sink, and my brain finally decided to help by pulling information from somewhere deep inside. "No! You don't put water on grease fires." He nodded and backed away. The fire burned on, not caring at all about us.

Well, it was great that my brain decided to remember that you're not supposed to put water on a grease fire. Just in the nick of time, too! But then I couldn't quite recall what it was you were supposed to do. Josh kneeled down on the floor, bringing the burning pan down low. "Don't put it on the floor!" was my next suggestion. I had a roommate in college who couldn't remember what you were supposed to do with a grease fire, and her solution was to put the burning pan down on the floor. We had a big black ring on the linoleum as a result. I'm not sure that he was actually considering putting the pan on the floor or if he was just trying to keep the flames from touching the ceiling. All I knew was that I did not want a big black ring on my hardwoods.

Smother! That's what you're supposed to do. I grabbed a thick kitchen rug off the floor and threw it over the pan. Something hot splashed onto my foot and I saw a puddle of clear liquid on the floor. Now that I think about it, the rug could have been a really stupid plan. Kitchen rugs are generally pretty flammable. It would have been better to have used the lid that went with the pan, but we've already established that my brain was being a little slow. This particular rug had a really tight weave, and I guess that saved us. The fire went out, and then the smoke alarm went off. Josh took the rug-covered pan outside while I fanned the smoke alarm with a cutting board.

It all happened in the course of maybe thirty seconds, but geez. It was the most action-packed half minute I had experienced in a long time.

Josh came back inside, leaving the door open to allow the smoke to disappate. I continued to fan, thinking that having a little kitchen fire every week or so would allow me to build up some nice arm muscles. I have a love/hate relationships with smoke alarms. My only experience with them has been to be annoyed by them, either because they want more batteries in the middle of the night or they are alerting me to a problem I already know about. I was glad it hadn't gone off during the actual fire. That would have been just one more thing to distract my brain from finding the right information.

I was a little concerned about my foot. I knew that hot grease was a bad, bad thing to have touch your skin. My foot didn't really hurt, though. It felt a little warm, but mostly just wet. I know the grease had been really freaking hot, but maybe I had some kind of super foot that was resilient to burns.

The smoke alarm finally finished telling us what we had already known. We closed the back door and reconvened at the scene of the action. I carefully touched the puddle on the floor that had formed at the same time that my super foot had gotten wet. It was too watery to be cooking oil. What the heck was it?

The answer: it was cider. The cider pot had been sitting on the counter when I had thrown the rug over the fire. I guess I had hit it. On top of everything, it was sort of a perfect comic disaster. We had a grease fire and we dumped mulled apple cider on the floor.

The events all caught up with Josh and he suddenly enveloped me in a tight hug. Josh is good in a crisis. He can hold a pan full of fire and not panic. Then once the crisis is over, it all catches up with him and he seems to realize all that was at stake. I learned this about him after he changed my tire on the shoulder of I-40. He'd never changed a tire before, but he did it perfectly, with eighteen-wheelers whizzing by only a few feet away. Then we drove to the nearest gas station to check everything out at a safer location, and he smoked cigarettes with shaky hands.

This was like that, only I guess he'd had enough smoke, so he decided he needed a hug instead. It was sweet, though I don't think that I had been in actual danger. There was potential for real disaster here. We could have burned down the neighborhood. But me? I have legs, capable of getting me away from the fire. The house does not have legs. I was freaked out about my beautiful house.

It was scary, but we handled it. That seems to be a good description of my experience with adulthood so far.

The next night, I went to Lowes and bought two household fire extinguishers. Josh said we needed one for his library, too. We are suddenly very concerned about fire safety.

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