Did your mother ever tell you to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident, and make sure your house is clean in case the Fire Department has to break in? Turns out, that might actually be good advice.
Last night started inauspiciously enough. Ella and Bennett came over to play while their parents and baby sister went to a party. Weston and Ella took all the sheets, blankets and pillows in the house and piled them on the deck chairs in the living room to build a fort. Shane and Bennett pushed cars, trucks and trains up and down the hallway. At bedtime, Ella and Bennett went home and Weston and Shane reluctantly brushed their teeth and went to sleep. The blankets, sheets, pillows, cars, trucks, trains, toothbrushes and other assorted detritus from the festivities were scattered willy-nilly all over the house.
Lloyd and I had a glass of wine and were getting ready for bed about 11:30 after having messily scattered more stuff around when the fire alarm went off. Now, this is not just any fire alarm. It's a very loud woman's voice coming through a speaker in the ceiling. The voice firmly repeats: 'May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. A fire has been reported in the building. Please proceed to the nearest exit and evacuate the building.' Then there are three piercing shrieks, and it starts over.
We've been through several of these alarms in the past, all thankfully during the day, and we had talked about having clothes and things ready to go in case there was one in the middle of the night. But as you probably know, talking doesn't really get you squat, in terms of being able to put warm clothes on yourselves and you children in the middle of the night. So, out we went into the frigid windy night, dragging blankets and dangling children. Lloyd was relatively well-dressed, but I had on summer pajama bottoms, an inside-out sweatshirt, mismatched socks, and clogs. The hallway outside our door had the acrid smell of burning chemicals, so it probably wasn't just the neighborhood hoodlums out playing with roman candles. After we got outside, the Fire Department herded us into the hospital lobby to wait it out with all our friends and neighbors.
So, there we were, just minding our own business, when the Fire Department came looking for us, because they needed to CHECK OUT OUR APARTMENT. 'Su-ure,' I stammered, 'Go ahead, it's open, and don't worry, there's nothing to find there, I stashed my weed and my grenades here in my purse.' No, no, I didn't really say the last part, but I was thinking it. One of my character flaws is making jokes when I should just keep my mouth shut, so I figure I did good. Or better than usual, anyway.
Off they went to check out the apartment and I was left sitting there, thinking 'At least we weren't in an accident.' We made a mad dash for the hotel on base and camped out for the night, enjoying the sounds of a loud party next door until after 3, when Lloyd went over and asked them to quiet down. The Fire Department let everyone back in sometime after we went to the hotel, so I guess everything is hunky-dory now. Everything looked normal when we came back this morning, and the smell was gone. Lloyd looked around and said, 'This place sure is a disaster!' I replied, 'Maybe the Fire Department tossed it,' and he said, 'If they did, we'd never be able to tell.'
As I type this, Lloyd is frantically cleaning the living room, getting together a 'midnight fire alarm' kit, and running a load of unmentionables.