The last thing I remember was the ball of blue, firey gas barreling out of the oven. The force from the fireball, or maybe it was my natural reaction to reel backward, pushed me across the kitchen until the refrigerator brought me to an abrupt stop. I still had the match in my hand.
To explain how I ended up nearly blowing myself up, I have to back up about a day. We had a long weekend for Thanksgiving because we went to an American university in Cairo, and we were supposed to go to Upper Egypt to check out the tombs and whatnot. I was not even supposed to be making Thanksgiving dinner. Then Nic got sick, had a 104 degree fever, and we canceled our trip. I went to the pharmacy at the bottom of our building and bought Nic some super strength antibiotics and prayed they would bring the fever down. I had seen the inside of the hospital once, and I didn't want to go back unless the situation was really dire. I’m talking hit by a bus dire.
This is when I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner. All our friends were gone, Nic was sick, and I had nothing else to do other than take his temperature every couple hours. I went to the big "Western" grocery store in the "suburbs" to get some things to make a "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner. I got everything I needed for stuffing, mashed potatoes, and even pumpkin pie. I bought a little chicken to stand in for the turkey. Everything was going smoothly. Until I had to light the oven.
Our stove was a 1950s gas model that had seen better days. You had to turn on the gas then light the pilot with a match. To light the oven though you had to turn on the gas and leave the door shut for just a minute or so or else the pilot would never light. I guess I left the door closed for a minute too long.
I jumped up from the floor in front of the refrigerator screaming, "I'm on fire! I'm on fire!"
I wasn't actually on fire, but I was at a loss for words to describe what had just happened.
Nic, delirious with fever, came running to meet me on my way to the bathroom. I felt my face. It was still there. I felt my neck, that was ok too. Then I grabbed my hair. And it came out in my hand. I started wimpering. Confused to see me not actually up in flames, Nic grabbed me and started shaking me. "Are you ok, do we have to go to the hospital?"
I couldn't really form words. I was staring into the mirror wimpering, watching a significant portion of my bangs flutter into the sink. I leaned into the mirror and saw that my eyelashes were also gone.
"Are you crying because you’re hurt or are you crying because you lost your hair."
"My hair," I wimpered.
I know it’s vain, but I really liked my eyelashes. They were ALL gone. But other than that, I was ok. No visible burns, except for a squiggly line across my neck where the flame hit the chain from my necklace and a very uncomfortably warm face for about a day. I still managed to finish Thanksgiving dinner. The pie even turned out somehow. Neither Nic nor I went to the hospital. But I know how lucky I was to walk away with just a handful of stinky burnt hair. This is why I will never, ever deep fry a turkey. I don’t want to press my luck.
Six months later when we were moving out, we told our landlady that we thought the oven was a little dangerous.
"That oven? I love that oven! That’s the best oven I’ve ever owned! There’s nothing wrong with that oven. You just don’t know how to work an oven."
I guess not.