Oh Internet. As much as I love embarrassing myself for your entertainment, I didn’t really want to share this one. (Although YES, I acknowledge that it could have been MUCH worse and I’m glad it WASN’T.) But, despite writing hundreds of words on about seven alternative posts, it seems that THIS is the one that wants to be written.
I trust that you will read with the proper amount of sympathy and then excuse yourself to the restroom to laugh discreetly under cover of the sound of a running sink. And that you will share similar tales of humiliation in the comments. Or at least do that thing where you pretend it happens to everyone! All the time!
Because I have given up sweets, I have been craving carbs like whoa. Crackers. Bread. Pasta. Popcorn. Just pile it all up onto a plate and send it my way please.
(Good thing the sweets restriction is not for weight loss purposes!)
Saturday night, my husband is at the hospital overnight. As is my custom when he’s overnight, I cannot bear the thought of sleeping alone in our bed. So I stay up very very late watching a marathon of The Big Bang Theory.
At around 12:17, I decide I want popcorn.
Our pantry contains two types of popcorn:
Option 1: A 100-calorie pack of Pop Secret.
Option 2: A whole box of normal size packages of fake-butter-flavored Boy Scout popcorn.
I choose Option 1, read the instructions, and throw the bag in the microwave. Three minutes seems like a long time for such a small amount of popcorn, but hey – that’s what the instructions said. It’s not like I need to leave it in that long. A veteran popcorn maker, I know that you pay more attention to the pops than to the time remaining. And when the pops start spacing themselves two to three seconds apart, you remove the popcorn and start stuffing your face.
I peek into the microwave at some point and notice steam coming from the bag.
That’s odd, I think to myself. I didn’t realize popcorn steams like that.
A few seconds later, I peek again. The steam is thicker and more… insidious than normal steam. And it is pouring from the bag with great vigor. So I open the microwave and a big plume of burnt popcorn races for the ceiling.
I throw open the window.
That’s when the siren pierces the midnight calm with its furious wail.
Because, as is my custom, I’d turned on our burglar alarm as soon as my husband left. And opening any windows or doors triggers the alarm.
Fanning at the smoke with a dish towel, I run over to the alarm keypad and punch in our code. Then I fly back to shoo the smoke out the window into the icy January morning.
The security company is supposed to call us when the alarm goes off. When I don’t get a call right away, I realize they must have called my husband. Who will probably freak out. So I send him a text letting him know it was a mistake, nothing is wrong, I haven’t been murdered.
Then the phone rings. It’s the security company dispatcher. I babble at her, still shaky from the popcorn fire and the ear-splitting burglar alarm, telling her it was a mistake and I am so sorry and blah blah blah.
When she finally gets a word in edgewise, she asks me for my security code and then tells me that since I haven’t reset the alarm, she has called the cops.
O. M. G.
I don’t know how to reset the alarm! I tell her. I plugged in my code!
Plug it in again.
I do. Nothing.
Well, she says, trying for patient but succeeding at exasperated, you try it again and I’ll let the cops know it was a false alarm.
I get off the phone with her. I stab in the code a couple more times.
That’s when my husband calls.
Um, he says, I got a call from our security company that the alarm went off and they had to send the cops to our house. Are you okay?
He is very calm, Internet. Much more calm than I am, and I know I’m okay.
At top speed, I tell him what’s happened. He remains very calm, unconcerned, no trace of even mild bemusement or irritation, and then reminds me – kindly, mind you – that he has actual dying patients to tend to.
I am afraid the cops are going to show up. And I’m fresh out of the shower (don’t you shower at midnight on a Saturday?) wearing nothing but a white sleeping tank top and pajama pants. My house is fogged in with a thick layer of popcorn smoke.
I hightail it upstairs to grab a sweat shirt.
I’m halfway to the second floor when the phone rings. I race back into the kitchen, where, of course, I’ve left my phone.
It’s the security company again. I still haven’t managed to reset the alarm. We determine that the woman on the line could be dealing with ACTUAL emergencies, rather than helping me figure out how to reset the thing. We determine the reason it won’t reset is because I haven’t closed the kitchen window. I slam the window shut, rekey my passcode into the alarm panel, and dash back out of the kitchen.
As I’m skidding down the hallway, I see police lights striping my neighborhood with red and blue.
I am sure all my neighbors are rushing to their windows, ready to watch as the cop leaves his car and marches up my front steps. Perhaps his gun will be drawn. Perhaps his partner will go around the side of the house to scope out the situation from the side window. I imagine having to answer the door, baring my tank-top and still-wet hair to the biting January night as the entire neighborhood watches. Just another wife-beater-wearing weirdo for the next episode of COPS. (At least it’s a CLEAN tank top.)
Is she a meth cooker? A prostitute? A murderer? my neighbors will wonder. They’ll whisper about me at Super Bowl parties and barbecues. The rumors will get wilder and more outrageous, until I’m a sex-crazed asylum escapee who’s chopped 10 consecutive husbands into little bits and now makes popcorn-scented bombs in her basement. Their kids will peer in our windows and run away shrieking – half-terrified, half-delighted – every time I leave my house to empty the trash. The wives will stand across the street in clumps of three or five, speculating about my stringy hair and questionable fashion sense and how to run me out of town. The husbands will grouse about my effect on property values.
In the few seconds I pause to decide whether to open the door or sprint upstairs for the sweatshirt, the police car extinguishes its lights, pulls into my driveway, backs out, and speeds off down the street.
At least I know it only takes about 10 minutes for the police to respond to an emergency at my house.
I know you are dying to learn how the night ended. I stayed up until 3:00 watching The Big Bang Theory reruns. And, of course, I made another bag of popcorn. Successfully, this time.
(This is where you tell me about an equally mortifying thing that happened to you.)