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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« Join me, won't you, as I wallow for a bit? | Main | Putting my brains on notice. »
Tuesday
Dec092008

How many neurotics does it take to make a fire?

Alice: Hey, why don't we make a fire?

Scott: Why would we do that?

Alice: Because fires are nice.

Scott: I was going to work…

Alice: You could work right here, right by the fire.

Scott: eyes Alice with suspicion.

Alice: Okay, if you don't want to—

Scott: No, let's do it. Okay.

He goes to retrieve the logs and kindling, because Alice is a princess who does not wish to dirty her princess hands.

Scott: I should have cleaned out the fireplace, it's filled with ash.

Alice: Don't forget to open the flue.

Scott: Can you get the newspaper sections we don't read?

Alice: Business and Sports, coming up.

There is crumpling.

Alice: These pages have colored ink on them. Are you supposed to burn colored ink? Isn't that like a carcinogen or something?

Scott: It's fine.

Alice: And you opened the flue?

Scott sighs.

Finally, there is something like a fire.

5 seconds later…

Scott: What did you do with the carbon monoxide detector?

Alice: It's in the basement, somewhere.

Scott: You took it out and I saw it down there, I saw it and I thought, that's a weird place for it to be but I didn't get it, and now I can't remember where it is, and we're probably going to poison ourselves.

Alice: There's one upstairs. That's enough, right? Do we need one down here, too?

Scott heads down to the basement.

He returns with no carbon monoxide detector. Meanwhile, the fire is almost out.

Scott: The fire's almost out.

Alice: I know, but see how there's that little bit in the back? I thought maybe if I left it alone it would come back.

Scott, sighing, restarts the fire and returns to the couch.

12 seconds later…


Scott: Are you feeling light-headed?

Alice: I was just thinking that. Crap.

Alice heads down to the basement, and returns with the carbon monoxide detector.
She plugs it in. They watch it anxiously.


Alice: It's 0.

Scott: I still feel weird.

10 minutes later.

Alice: I'm going to bed.

Scott: Is the carbon monoxide making you tired?

Alice: Look, it's still 0. I'm just tired.

They look at the fire.

Alice: Can we leave it?

They attempt to stamp out the fire, using their various fire-related implements, but on it burns.

Alice: Now that we want it to go out, it won't go out.

Scott: It'll be fine.

Alice: Right. The smoke alarm is right there. It's fine, right? Right.

They go to bed, eyeing the dying embers nervously. Somehow, they all survive.


The next evening…


Scott: Did your lungs hurt you all day?

Alice: We're never making a fire again, are we.

Scott: I didn't say that, why would you say that?

Reader Comments (52)

Our carbon monoxide detector kept going off for no good reason. After calling the gas company because I thought we were going to die or blow up and they found nothing, we unplugged the thing. We dont even have a fireplace.
December 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDani
May I suggest a bottle of wine each perhaps one evening?
December 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna Schmidt
So glad to hear there are more freaks like me in this world. Reassuring, really.
December 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAimee Greeblemonkey
Hee. In our house I make the fire, ineptly, because the heating doesn't work and the CFO is off doing something important and it's essentially still the 1950s in our house right now.

Then, the very second he comes in, before he says hello to us, his eyes twitch over to the fire which is exhibiting signs of not being correctly poked, or aired or something and he cannot stop himself from going to fix it. And then I tell him how much I hate him.

Ah, domestic bliss.
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJaywalker
I would've started feeling dizzy just thinking about carbon monoxide too. One time my sister and I decided to light a fire in a fireplace that hadn't been used in years while we were good and stoned. While sitting on the couch and enjoying the cozy fire a big fireball dropped down from the chimney...it was a bird's nest that had caught fire. I'm glad we just have a pellet stove.
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
This exact paranoia is why I put in a wood stove insert two years ago. Of course, I'm in California, so now we have Spare the Air Days and we can't use the darn thing anyway. Hello big utility bills!
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpatois
Can I catch carbon monoxide poisoning from you? I'm feeling a little sick...
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCat
You guys are made for each other. Can you imagine how annoying it would be if he was all, "CO? What's the big deal? I can't smell anything. Just let me throw another big log and some lighter fluid & firecrackers on the fire, and we can go to bed."
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterblondie
I spent a year in Paris in college in a crappy, drafty little chambre de bonne with an electric heater. I was afraid to run the electric heater much because i didn't know how much it was going to cost me, so i'd collect old phone books and fruit crates off the street and burn them in the fireplace. it was a little worrisome the way the room would get kind of hazy, and i did hope as i drifted off to sleep that i would wake up again. i always did, i guess thanks to the lack of any kind of insulation in the place.

Later someone told me that it's illegal to light fireplace fires in ANY Paris buildings and that all of their chimneys were sealed up years ago. Which would explain all the smoke.
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Sounds so familiar, it's scary.
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngie
I love this blog
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnn
This is hilarious. So much for a fire being relaxing.
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJessi Louise
Loved this post!! Thanks for the laughs.
December 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkaren
That was so funny! I tend to be neurotic about fires too. Our cabin in the Adirondacks has no heat but a woodstove so when we were up there in October we had to light it while we were working inside - and I was always really nervous to leave it burning when we left. It always happens that you get a really GOOD fire going just when it's time to leave!

One time when I was a kid my parents lit a fire in our fireplace and my dad forgot to open the flue and the whole house filled with smoke. I don't think we ever lit one again!
December 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl
Hi !I've never left a comment on your blog even though I've been following it for about a year. But today is "Operation: Comment Your Balls/Boobs Off!" on Dad Gone Mad (www.dadgonemad.com) so I've decided to "de-lurke" as he puts it.So here I am, juste to say that I love your blog and your may of writting. And also that I was os happy to see your face and hear your voice thanks to your Momversations.Keep it up !!

Just an other fan
December 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlexClio
Hi !I've never left a comment on your blog even though I've been following it for about a year. But today is "Operation: Comment Your Balls/Boobs Off!" on Dad Gone Mad (www.dadgonemad.com) so I've decided to "de-lurke" as he puts it.So here I am, juste to say that I love your blog and your way of writting. And also that I was os happy to see your face and hear your voice thanks to your Momversations.Keep it up !!

Just an other fan
December 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlexClio
I swear my husband and I had a similar conversation just last week.
December 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristy
This is hilarious...but crud. I can't believe I have to add fires in a fireplace to my list of fears. DAMN.

Of course, I already think about global warming and air pollution so it's not like my experience of fires was untainted.

I was going to say, about working by the fire--that there is this gas fireplace in a cafe I sometimes travel to (it is far from where I live) and I get the best writing done by this fireplace. It's actually sort of strange how inspiring it is. And safer, that way I guess.
December 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
Is now a good time to tell you about my friend who's house caught on fire (from a fire in the fireplace) on Thanksgiving with a houseful of people? I know that my fireplace will be laying dormant for a while!!
December 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergray matter matters
Is now a good time to tell you about my friend who's house caught on fire (from a fire in the fireplace) on Thanksgiving with a houseful of people? I know that my fireplace will be laying dormant for a while!!
December 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergray matter matters
Oh so funny! Thanks for the dialogue!

~Lizwww.AGiveawayADay.blogspot.com

December 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
I brought up this entry to my husband last night as we built a fire. The husband said Pshaw. I kept imagining headaches and sleepiness (could have been the vodka). I told him Finslippy wouldn't think this is such a good idea.

But, I am not dead, so... hooray!
December 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjoaaanna
I brought up this entry to my husband last night as we built a fire. The husband said Pshaw. I kept imagining headaches and sleepiness (could have been the vodka). I told him Finslippy wouldn't think this is such a good idea.

But, I am not dead, so... hooray!
December 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjoaaanna
ok, so Carbon Monoxide is the "silent killer" so you all should have a working detector! AND, Alice, you and Scott need to find that apartment in Brooklyn with radiant heat quickly!
December 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
I am a first time visitor and this had me laughing out loud. Thank you.
December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKingsmom

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