Early in our relationship, Norman told me a story about how, when he was young, lightening had started a fire in his house while he was sleeping. Evidently the bolt came in through the window above his head where he was sleeping and followed some old wiring in the wall, setting the house ablaze. To this day he doesn’t care for lightening storms, and I had no idea how petrified he was of fire . . .until we lived near the airport.
We’d just moved from an apartment deep within the city to one a bit further out in order to have a dog. Since this apartment was closer to the airport, barking wasn’t a real consideration for neighbors. The fact that noise wasn’t a real consideration did not quite hit home until the first Tuesday post-move.
At the time I was working for a pharmacy and had the luxurious shift of 11:00am-7:00pm. (I do so miss sleeping in every day!) We moved in on the weekend, and on Monday I went to work as usual, having slept until about 9:30. My friends and coworkers inquired as to “how we liked” the new place, and I said it was fine, still a little small, but larger than the last apartment, which we had termed “the shoebox.” What I didn’t understand, I told them, was just why it was so affordable just because of its proximity to the airport. I had heard the planes coming and going, but it wasn’t really any worse than living downtown and hearing the busses go by.
Along came 8:15 Tuesday morning, waking both Norm and I with such a start that I wondered if we were having an earthquake. No, I thought, I usually sleep through earthquakes. (True story for another day.) As books hobbled off of their shelves and knick-knacks clattered to the floor, I suddenly understood why the apartment was so cheap. The local Air National Guard, it seems, had their runway on the other side of the trees behind the house. When the F-16’s took off for training runs, it would consistently be at 8:15 on Tuesday mornings, and the shaking and quaking would commence. We lost a lot of picture frames and ceramic crap that year. I wanted to sue the ANG for loss of property, but Norm talked me out of it.
(Photo Courtesy VT ANG website)
Well, you get what you pay for. And the apartment was cheap.
We’d only lived in the apartment for a couple of months when there was a small leak in the upstairs apartment that shorted out some wiring and blacked out the whole house. The landlord had some (apparently related) country bumpkin come in and rewire some of the defective wiring—I don’t remember all of the details—and aside from having to move a few appliances around it went fairly smoothly. Or so we thought.
That very night I awoke sweating profusely and having a hard time breathing. As I mentioned before, I am a sound sleeper. For me to wake up in the middle of the night is a very rare occurrence, and one that I have always associated with “something wrong.” I opened my eyes and could see the moonlight shining hazily as it came through the window.
Wait a minute, I thought. Hazily?
No, that must be SMOKE!!!
“Norm, FIRE!” I said, wanting my boyfriend—he of the 20/20 vision—to assess the situation.
That’s not exactly what happened.
Without consideration for me, our pets, the old lady next door, or a pair of underwear, my hero sprang from bed and was out the front door in a matter of seconds. If I hadn’t already had “bed-head,” the wind caused by his rapid egress would have certainly assured the same effect. He went from sawing wood to standing in the woods in about three seconds.
I must tell you, I feel so safe knowing that he’s level-headed in a crisis and has such concern for my welfare. Ahem.
I grabbed my glasses, wrapped the blankets around me, and met him outside. I let him have a blanket to cover himself, and we both looked at the house. Not only could we not see any open flames, but we couldn’t even see a glow. Whatever fire there had been must’ve extinguished itself or been close to it by now. I tentatively walked back inside and looked around, noting that the smoke seemed thicker at one end of the house. Near where that mouth-breather did the wiring, I thought.
And as I walked down through the kitchen toward the bathroom, I started to notice a distinct floral scent to the smoke that filled the rooms. And only then did I find that we had neglected to reconnect the exhaust hose of the dryer to the outside vent.
And that was The Night My Boyfriend and I Almost Snuggled to Death.