I pulled an extra comforter out of the linen closet last night and as I was lying underneath it on the living room floor, playing with Gus, I saw a small spider crawl away from me. Logically, I assumed it had been on the blanket and that it was a baby and so I screamed frantically for my wife with the severe phobia of spiders, to come and kill it while I held Gus back like it was a grenade.
It didn’t take long for paranoia to set in and I immediately started to consider where that spider came from. It was a baby spider from a sac of baby spiders that had hatched in the linen closet, which meant that the baby had a mother spider and it was either in the closet or somewhere on the comforter and it was very, very angry. So I did what anyone slightly crazy might, I put the comforter into the dryer and assumed that any remaining spiders would be sucked off and into the vent where they could not eat half my face and bite me and cause such sever tissue necrosis that I’d have to cut my leg and hand and the other half of my face off.
As I sat in front of the dryer, waiting, I noticed a funny smell, so I opened it up, pulled out the comforter, stuck my head in (we have stackables, so it was on top of the washing machine in our laundry closet) and looked around. Nothing seemed unusual, other than the smell, so I put the comforter back in and turned the dryer on. I pulled it out again after a minute and that’s when I noticed the fire. I repeat, THAT IS WHEN I NOTICED THE FIRE.
It was not a huge fire, a flame more than anything else, back behind the heating element. I panicked a little when I was unable to blow it out because what if it was the mother spider on fire back there? What if it got its final revenge by running somewhere into the wall and now OUR WALLS ARE ON FIRE? But it went out on its own pretty quickly and I was feeling better, more relived. I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal? Just a one-time fire? Maybe? I was desperately trying to convince myself that I wasn’t going to need to buy a new dryer because, you know what? We just spent over $1000 on our cat and this is unfair! Janie is a city employee and is being forced into a week long unpaid furlough which means my wife is unemployed this week and we don’t have any money to spare. MY WIFE IS A BUM!
I told Janie about the small flame and then suggested we find wherever it is we put that fire extinguisher. We both agreed, yeah, one day we should remember where we put that. Is it under the kitchen sink? In the hall closet? In the garage? We should totally find that one day, in case the dryer catches on fire or something. Then I called my dad, hoping he’d tell me I could still use it, that it was probably a good kind of fire and there was likely nothing wrong with drying the load of laundry that just had finished washing. Sure, Linsey, go ahead and put some clothes in the dryer for an hour and I bet they won’t come out burned to ashes and oh, by the way, YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE.
That is about when I decided to take things into my own hands and, I’ll be honest, this usually doesn’t end well. Remember a while ago when I wrote about pecking off all those tiny tiles form our master bath, you know, a year ago? And remember how I recently told you how that bathroom has been unusable for an entire year because I didn’t know what to do next? Yeah, well…that’s how things usually go with me. When I was in grade school, my sister and brother were old enough to want nothing to do with me and my mom was busy reading the newspaper or working and my dad was watching Rockford Files. So I would play board games by myself, alone in my room, like a lonely little asshole loser. Also, I still do this because Janie refuses to play games with me. So I had one board game called Pay Day. Does anyone else remember Pay Day? It was a game about getting paid – on pay day. It was a good exercise in real life because I am also always waiting for pay day. I’m waiting for pay day right now because my wife is on an unpaid furlough which is really putting a crimp in my ability to buy yarn for making more yarn animals. I need those yarn animals to play board games with. This game, Pay Day, had a little mechanical calendar and every so often you’d get to press a button and it would click over to a new day. I know I am not making this up, but I looked all over online and none of the Pay Day game websites ever mention or show this calendar, but I know it existed because it’s the entire point of this story…it’s the crux of my story and for God’s sake, WHY DOES NO ONE ELSE REMEMBER THIS ESSENTIAL GAME PIECE? Anyhow, there was this thing and you pushed the button and the date changed. Well, one day when I was tired of playing Pay Day by myself, I decided to take the thing apart to see how it worked. I unscrewed the tiny screws and it practically exploded in my lap. Springs and plastic parts were all over the place and I could never get it put back together. That was the end of Pay Day. The game, not the real thing. I get paid next Friday.
I was taking things into my own hands with the dryer, much like that Pay Day calendar. I didn’t know what I was doing, exactly, but I knew that unscrewing those little screws was the key to understanding – maybe I’d be able to fix it? Maybe I’d find a crispy burnt dead spider in there and I’d take it out and screw it back together and we’d all feel better about ourselves? The possibilities were endless. So I got a screw driver, put my head into the dryer and started unscrewing the little screws in the back panel. And after two of the three were out, I was feeling pretty good. So I reached in to get at the third and final screw and as I was about halfway done, there was a spark. I thought to myself: UH OH. And that is never a good thing to think. But then I thought: I better get this screw out because it’s making sparks! Like that little screw was the cause of the fire and why my comforter smelled like it had been sitting in front of a campfire for three weeks. It made so much sense! Doesn’t it make sense? No? Go to hell!
So just as I twist the screw around once more, the heating element lights up like a Christmas tree, if a Christmas tree is hot as fire and bright orange and yellow. It was like Jesus was born in the back of the dryer and his divine glory was as bright as the sun. THE SUN AND JESUS WERE IN THE BACK OF THE DRYER AND THEY WERE VERY HOT.
I asked Janie to find the fire extinguisher. The one we so nonchalantly discussed finding one day, sometime in the future when we weren’t pretty sure the dryer was going to burst into flames. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really ask Janie for the fire extinguisher so much as I screamed in a panic, JANIE WE NEED THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER NOW OH MY GOD THIS IS REALLY BAD, JANIE NOW!!! And what did she do? She dug around the patio closet and found it in the exact place we left it last summer after that time I burned off part of my eyebrows with the barbecue! On the first try! Then she brought it over to me , put it on the floor and ran away. RAN. AWAY.
One time, when my sister and her husband were taking their trash out into the alley behind their house on a dark Autumn evening, they heard a noise. Specifically, my brother-in-law heard a noise that sounded an awful lot like someone was hiding near the garbage can in the alley behind their house where they were going to dump their trash. So he did the only reasonable thing – he dropped his half of the garbage and ran past my sister into the house, leaving here there holding two sacks of trash, in the dark of night, with a potential robber/rapist/rabid raccoon/murderer hiding a few feet away, wondering what the hell was going on. So my sister and I both have made poor spousal choices because it’s pretty clear that when our respective loved one sense danger, their instincts are to run away and leave us for dead. But hey, Janie did bring the fire extinguisher and leave it on the floor just out of my reach and my sister’s husband did manage, as he ran past her to the safety of their home, to scream at her to “RUN!” Also, once my parents were taking a walk and they came across a large, vicious looking dog and my dad turned and ran the other way, leaving my mom in the street. This family has some serious problems with spousal protection, that’s all I’m saying.
So I am standing in the hallway with the entire dryer in my arms because I was trying to pull it out of the closet so I could unplug it and save our lives, and Janie leaves the fire extinguisher three feet away and takes off. I yell after her, WHERE ARE YOU GOING!? because I am stunned that she has done this to me. I am shocked that she has seen me holding a clothes dryer in the air, struggling to unplug it, sweating from the weight of the appliance and the heat of the potentially deadly supernova inside and she has left me like this with nary an explanation. No, I’m going to call 911, no I’m going to save the animals, no I’m going out for cigarettes, just gone. So I scream out of incredulity and she comes back and says, I was going to fan the fire alarm in case there was smoke, so it wouldn’t go off!
Inside I was thinking, okay, so you want me to burn to death. I understand now, you want me to die. I’m pretty sure we had a discussion about this once before, where I asked that if, one day, you hated me so much that you wanted to kill me, that you reconsider and we talk about how to amicably resolve our problems so we can both just live in peace, but I understand that I’ve apparently done something to make that no longer seem appealing and now you’re seizing the opportunity to kill me. And I have to respect that – she’s made an important decision about our relationship and she’s putting her foot down. But on the outside I’m saying, YOU GET OVER HERE AND HELP ME UNPLUG THIS! I DON’T WANT TO DIE! We need that alarm to warn the others and call for help!
Guilt must have set, because she put down that suitcase, life insurance policy I never knew about, dog crate and forged suicide note and came over to help me pull the plug from the wall and then move the dryer into the office where it now sits, useless and no longer on fire. Until my dad is able to come over and help me clean it out and put it back together and maybe ensure it won’t catch on fire again, we’re going to have to go to the laundromat, where poor people with wives on a forced furlough and burned up clothes dryers go.
Happy Labor Day.
Clothes Dryer Fire Prevention