Suffice to say, it’s an experience that stings the eyes and pretty much everywhere else.
Let’s get down to how I took a shame bath. Flashback to Saturday night, after having lived here for six months, I have made a friend. Liv came to dinner. So I was cooking, zucchini, and porkchops and because I’m crazy and have no respect for tastebuds and complimentary flavours, there was a pot of pumpkin curry going too.
Of course Mini-Tex was having none of this, so he was on my back while I stirred, and cooked and talked with Liv. That’s when it happened; the porkchops burned. And went up like a house on fire, at which point our house started to act like it was on fire. High pitched beeping and shrill shrieks reverberated off of every surface. It seemed like the house itself was screaming. Wanting to protect my two year old son’s ears, I made a beeline for the door. And began swinging it open and closed to disperse some of the smoke. Janie covered her ears “It is so loud!” Unable to understand English over the din, she joined me outside, while Liv tried to figure out how to disable the smoke alarm.
In our brief tenure at this house, this happened once before so I knew that the smoke alarm was somehow tied to my landlord’s phone. I immediately sent her a frantic series of texts along the lines of “nothing is on fire, how do I disable the system without hacking into the wall with an axe?” Unbeknownst to me, my landlord’s phone was in her car, so she didn’t reply.
After a couple of minutes Liv managed to disable the smoke alarm (all the while stirring the remaining dishes so they didn’t burn and opening windows) and we all sat down to dinner, content to laugh about the hilarity of the situation, feeling that it was in the past. This is of course when the firetruck pulled up in front of our house with lights ablazing and a firefighter clothed entirely in his heavy firefighting getup, stepped down from the fire engine.
Embarrassment flooded my being and I wanted to sink into the ground. But before digging my way to China to escape my shame, I had to apologize to the poor men whose Saturday night I had ruined. Because let’s keep in mind that this is a small town. The likelihood that they were on call and that my poor cooking had pulled them away from THEIR family dinners was exceptionally high.
Despite the -25 temperature, I ran outside without a coat. It didn’t matter, the bubbling cauldron of humiliation that was my midsection at that moment kept me warm. “I’m sorry!” I cried “I’m so sorry! There’s no fire! You can go home, I interrupted your dinners for nothing.”
The fireman good naturedly explained that he still had to come in to fill out paperwork and that possibly I should get the security code from my landlord for the next time I was cooking the other white meat.
This was when my shame morphed from a small roiling portion of my midsection to a full on lemon juice like bath. Because the fireman walked into my house and upon hearing that Mini-Tex was excited by the whole situation, the firefighter, still with his fifty plus pounds of gear on, began to play peekaboo with my son.
It was at that moment that I melted and became a puddle of mortified goo, as this man, who was missing his dinner because of my mistake, made himself the hightlight of my son’s month.
After a couple more short questions and giving the fireman the proper spelling of my name, he and his firetruck left, with the lights still blazing. Mini-Tex spent the rest of the night talking about the firetruck that was in our front yard. And later, when he woke up that night and the next morning, his first words were “firetruck”.
That whole story would be awful enough, but the thing is, it’s a small town, so the story won’t end there. It will be relived when I see that kind man in the grocery store. He’ll give Mini-Tex an extra specal wave at the parade next week when he recognizes him. And because God loves a good laugh, most likely I’ll meet that kind firefighter at my work. And thanks to my impossible to spell and unique last name, he’ll remember me and likely ask whether I’m planning porkchops for dinner. And I’ll bathe in shame all over again.
But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a good shame bath to have. Splashing metaphorical lemon juice in ones eyes because you’re so mortfied that someone was so kind when you were so stupid-it’s a good problem to have. That’s small town life for you though.
This post is dedicated to Liv, who insisted that I take a brief shame shower and retell the story at work.
Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who didn’t allow the curry to burn.