Baking in the Buff

On this Friday morning, I thought I would share with you a memory.

My senior year of college, I lived in an on-campus student apartment with my darling friend, Brigette. When we moved in, we had grand designs of cooking delicious and wholesome meals in our very own kitchen, but then we learned how not having a dishwasher or disposal made those plans considerably more ambitious than we’d thought. Another factor contributing to our limited use of that postage stamp-sized kitchen was our smoke alarm.

I’m pretty sure this smoke alarm ran on steroids instead of batteries. I understand that some smoke alarms can get confused by large amounts of steam. I can respect that. But this thing would start squealing at the slightest increase of temperature. We learned the hard way that simply opening a hot oven would set off the alarm, which, since we lived on campus, was wired to set off the fire alarm for the entire building after a certain amount of time. Once the alarm started sounding, we had only a couple of minutes to make it stop before we caused a total-building evacuation and became social pariahs. This was serious business.

We figured out by frantic, forced trial and error that the best way to operate our oven required the buddy system. One girl would open our front door for ventilation and assume the ready position with one hand on the oven door handle and the other inside an oven mitt. The other girl would stand holding a dish towel beneath the evil smoke detector and begin preemptively fanning the air. The first girl would then open the oven, yank out whatever was inside, and slam the oven door shut as quickly as possible. Deviating from this approach only caused panic, distress, and loud, shrill noises.

Brigette and I became pretty skilled at this routine. In retrospect, I have no idea why we didn’t just stop using the oven, but for the most part, we had things under control. And then one day, I found myself committed to baking cookies for a sorority function while Brigette was not at home. Uh oh. Luckily, my other darling friend, Christina, lived just a few doors down. Being the darling friend she is, Christina agreed to come sit with me while I finished up the cookies and, when needed, abet my oven antics.

Because I had have a slight problem with procrastination, I had yet to shower for whatever sorority event was to blame for this whole situation, so when I put the cookies in to bake, I quickly briefed Christina about the oven protocol and hopped in the shower. My plan was to be out before the cookies were done, but I told Christina to yell for me if she needed to take them out before I was finished.

A few minutes later, as I was stepping out of the shower, I heard the dreaded squeal of the smoke alarm. I bolted out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and found Christina standing in front of the open oven door holding the pan of cookies. The front door was open (check!), but the calm spring air couldn’t cancel out the 375 degrees wafting from the gaping oven door, and there was no second girl fanning the smoke alarm!

I panicked.

I slammed the oven door shut, grabbed the nearest dish towel, and started fanning violently. Christina stood, horrified, watching as I fanned so vigorously that my towel began to come loose. I sacrificed a fanning hand to hold my towel up, but as the squealing continued, bringing us ever closer to a full-on evacuation, I knew I needed both hands for this. I let go of my bath towel, which immediately fell to the ground. I fanned the smoke detector like I’d never fanned before, and suddenly…it stopped!

And then the adrenaline wore off. I realized I was standing completely naked in front of my wide-open front door. Neighbors had been walking around outside throughout the entire ordeal. Christina was laughing (…and laughing…and laughing…). I was mortified.

But you know what? Those cookies were perfect.


About mbdevilbiss

Until 2009, I never really thought much about Wisconsin. When I did, it was usually in the context of silent pep talks I'd give myself as I walked from the Metro station to my downtown D.C. office on blustery January mornings. "This isn't so bad," I'd tell myself. "Just imagine if you were in...Wisconsin!" *shiver* It wouldn't make me any warmer, but I could finish the 12-minute walk secure in the knowledge that I lived so, so far away from Canada. And then, one Saturday in early June, I went to a cookout and met a boy. He was wonderful and he was also moving to Madison, WI, to begin a PhD program in August. After a year of emails, phone calls, and biweekly visits, we shoved the last of my belongings into a jam-packed moving truck and headed west. As of October 9, 2010, I was an Accidental Wisconsonite. I'm no Sconnie, and I'll never be able to claim that prestigious status, but I'm loving life here so far. My blog is a place for writing about this life, and I hope you enjoy my Midwestern adventure as much as I have been.
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5 Responses to Baking in the Buff

  1. Courtney says:

    This is just..greatness. I will never, ever cuss my smoke detector again.

  2. You’re funny. And you write right good!!! 😉

  3. Allison says:

    Oh my. I’m so embarassed for you, years later. I feel like you just went through this ordeal today. I’m sorry. Have a glass of wine.

  4. Brigette says:

    Aahahahahahhahaha this cracked me up. How do I not remember this story?!?

    My worse incident with that stupid fire alarm was also at a time when you weren’t home. I was drastically hungover and after hours of laying about, I’d finally increased my motivation levels enough to pop a frozen Digiorno (sp?) pizza in the oven. When it was time, I preemptively opened the front door to let in the air. I had planned to quickly open the oven, pull out the pizza, and then fan the smoke alarm. But, when I opened the oven, the intense hot burst of pizza smell made me incredible nauseous. I was only able to slam the pizza down on top of the stove and had to scurry to the bathroom so I didn’t spew everywhere. Of course, I didn’t get a chance to fan the smoke detector, so it started going off while I was puking in the toilet. Then Lauren Caine walked right into the apartment since the door was wide open. I was completely mortified. But at least she helped me fan the smoke detector and the whole building was safe. 🙂

  5. Brigette says:

    worst not worse

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