It had been such a nice day. It had started out rainy and dreary, throwing our plans for a huge barbeque party on the porch into disarray, but by 1:00 when the guests started arriving, the sun was beginning to peek out. The food was a smashing success (Mahi Mahi en achiote, pork loin adobado, skirt steak with honey chipotle sauce, Bob’s catfish, chicken breasts Berber style, homemade guajillo chile salsa…) The cleanup wasn’t even too bad, with Sandy’s mom donning dishwashing gloves and digging right in.
The only thing that had gone wrong was that our oven, which we planned to use to keep the meat warm between grilling courses, had something sticky spilled inside it, and was really smoky. So, at 9:00, we turned on the self-cleaner, and off we went to the living room to put our feet up, review the party, and talk, as always, about the wedding.
It only took an hour for the smoke alarm to go off.
In one hour, the entire kitchen had become a poisonous smoky hellhole. No sooner had Sandy wrestled down the smoke alarm than the carbon monoxide detector began to beep.
While he tried to shut those devices off, I burst out the back door, pulling it open to let out as much smoke as possible. Except I forgot that I’d set the security system already, so 60 seconds after I got out on the porch, the screaming howler monkey alarm began its brain-melting assault.
After what seemed like 30 minutes, but was probably only five, we had shut off the security system and lowered the level of poisonous gases in the air to acceptable levels. We spent a while out on the back steps working on a crossword puzzle and enjoying the fresh air.
Around 10:45, windows opened, fans blowing, everything calming down, we noticed that the fire alarm had never really stopped beeping. It wasn’t an insistent alarm. Just a short beep every minute, the kind they make when the batteries are low. Every. Minute.
According to the manual we found online, our particular alarm doesn’t have regular batteries. It’s a special ten-year single-use model, and the condo’s less than ten years old, so that’s probably not the problem. What it told us, in a nutshell was, if you silence it because of a false alarm, it should beep like that for maybe 15 minutes. If it does it for more than 30, the thing is broken and you have to pretty much just smash it with a hammer and get a new one.
Imagining it might just be clouded with smoke, I decided to stick it by one of the open windows, hoping the fresh air would clear it up. And, about ten minutes later, it worked. So, we went to sleep.
And then, at about 1:00 am, the huge thunderstorm started, which woke us up. Oh wait, it wasn’t the thunderstorm that woke us up. It was the fire alarm! Which had gotten waterlogged sitting in the open window, and was now fried in some inoperable way and would not stop beeping! At 1:00 am!
Sandy heroically grabbed it and shoved it under the couch pillows and spent some time sleeping sitting up on top of the wailing siren. After a while, it stopped and he came back to bed. But then it started again. So he did what any handy homeowner would do. He wrapped it in a towel and put it in the storage closet in the back sunroom.
And here’s where I get to thinking, didn’t this totally happen to Phoebe on Friends once? It’s like God turned out to be a producer of sit-coms as a sideline, and decided to wreak some revenge on us for making fun of his plot lines. “Oh, you think this is silly, huh? Improbable? A worthless diversion from the A-plot of the episode? Ha! I’ll show you!”