If You Can’t Stand the Heat

The apartment where I lived my senior year of college was a little… non-posh. I lived there with two of my best friends and Colin. Colin deserves his own blog post, so I won’t go into details about him now.

Our apartment held a treasure trove of memories, but again, it wasn’t elegant. There were no pictures hung in frames. It didn’t contain nice furniture. And we left our Christmas tree up way too long (like, until graduation in May).

OK. Our apartment was trash. Yes, it was cheap, and four male college students lived there, but it was low, even for our standards. Our roof leaked four times when it rained during our residence, and we were on the bottom floor; explain that one to me. The carpet in the living room had a stain the size of a body. We don’t know—and don’t want to know—what happened on it before we lived there. Despite monthly bleachings, the walls in the laundry room just liked mold too much.

The list goes on and on, but nothing in the apartment compared to the oven.

It smoked… a lot. The higher the temperature, the more it smoked. Anything baked at the standard 350 degrees produced a slight haze throughout the apartment, but anything above that caused rampant coughs .

Max (left), Cody (right), and me. Yes, I am short. Thank you for noticing.

My roommates—Max, Cody, Colin—and I had a system. When we pushed the oven to its limits, we would close all of our bedroom doors so that our clothes and sheets would not smell like chimneys. We would open the windows, light a candle, and turn on the ceiling fans. Someone would always man the smoke alarm with a fanning paper plate (sometimes unsuccessfully).

This routine seems ridiculous now, but it was normal at the time… until Cody decided to broil burgers.

Colin was nowhere to be found, per usual. Max was sitting in the living room. I was cooking chicken alfredo on the stove while putting dishes away from the dishwasher. We were, of course, on oven alert.

Cody—whom I consider a brother and love dearly—is not the grandest of cooks, and he is famous for forgetting about food that he has made or is making. He placed his burgers on the top oven rack, cranked her to 475, and went to his room to… actually the three of us can’t remember what he went to do because of the events that followed.

The oven began to smoke… even more than usual. I coughed and went to the oven door, which tried to box in the gray fumes. I opened it to find flames protruding from within.

“CODY. FIRE. OVEN.” I think I said those words, but they were probably more like indistinguishable sounds.

Cody came running in and Max literally leaped off the couch. We almost doused the flames with water but decided against it since it was a grease fire from the burgers. Such responsible adults.

Cody fanned the flames with an oven mitt as Max grabbed the fire extinguisher. They had it handled so I did what any logical person with nothing to do would have done in that situation—I grabbed my phone and began videoing.

Max pulled the pin on the extinguisher, and then there was a second. For that second, the three of us—jaws dropped and eyes wide—simply looked at each other. We were asking each other with our minds, “Are we really going to do this?” and saying “Yes. Yes, we are.”

Max detonated the fire extinguisher and stamped out the flames. The aftermath of the incident, however, was the most unwanted part.

Apparently there are two types of fire extinguishers: the kind that releases a foam and the kind that releases a powder. We had the powder kind.

It floats. It settles. Everywhere. The television. The couch. The toilets. The windowsills. The dishwasher and cabinet interiors thanks to my doing the dishes. Thankfully the doors to our rooms were closed, or we would have had it in our underwear.

The three of us vacuumed, scrubbed, dusted, and mopped for hours. The one thing we could not bear to clean at the moment out of exhaustion was the cause of such a calamity: the demonic oven.

We slammed the door shut and went for ice cream to compensate for our hours of work. We also didn’t even send Colin so much as a text about what happened. We did leave him a note though:


DO NOT open the oven door or turn on the stove!

Fire extinguisher powder will fly out.

Sincerely, Cody, Max, and Bryson

Yes, the apartment was crap, but it was our crap. We also finally gave it a name: The Firehouse.

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