Sunday, May 23, 2010

Self-Cleaning Oven

I used to live in a two room apartment; kitchen and bedroom/living room. The closeness of the rooms was convenient; when I got hungry in the middle of the night, I'd just roll out of bed and open the fridge. During the winter I'd leave the oven on at about 200F to dry my mittens or keep the "bedroom" warm. Another feature of my oven was its self-cleaning capability.

One rainy Saturday afternoon I noticed the bottom of the oven dotted with cheese from frozen pizzas along with black french fries and greasy crumbs and decided it was time to let the oven clean itself. I turned the knob as far as I could when I heard the loud click of the door automatically closing. The oven was on its own. I sat back with a good book to let it do its thing. In about seven minutes a stream of smoke began to seep through the side of the oven door where the gasket was worn. As the minutes went by a noxious plume of smoke filled the kitchen. I had no place to hide. I tripped over the door stop running to the only window in that tiny apartment. Frantically, I cranked open the window as I realized it was garbage day and still raining out. A light went on in my head at the thought of having to run down three flights of stairs, around to the back of the building in the rain only to struggle to open the dumpster lid. I pried open the oven door before its cleaning cycle was complete and tossed the trash in the oven. It was burning anything and everything that stuck to its bottom and sides so what harm would a few coffee grounds and chicken bones do?

The smoke was getting out of hand. I had to get out of there! The apartment door slammed behind me and I ran down the hall and knocked on my neighbor's door. (I'd been wanting to meet the cute guy in 3B for some time and now was as good a time as any). There was a moment when I wondered if I would be criminally negligent if the building burned down. Those thoughts quickly passed after he invited me in, handed me a glass of wine and helped me out of my shoes........