Another Perspective

The Day Our House Caught Fire

Luckily, Fire Marshal Obamavich came to the rescue!

By 3.20.09

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The other day I was fixing breakfast as a treat for my wife -- it was her birthday -- when somehow the kitchen towel I was using to wipe some spillage caught fire. Holding on to the edge of the burning towel, I ran over to the sink to douse the flames, but before I got there the towel fell from my hands and landed on a newspaper I had inadvertently left on the floor, setting it ablaze. From there, the flames spread to a pile of newspapers on the kitchen table, and before I knew it, the entire kitchen was on fire.

Sensing something amiss, my wife raced into the kitchen, shoved me aside, and called the fire department. In practically no time at all, Fire Marshal Obamavich was at our doorstep.

"What seems to be the problem?" he inquired graciously.

"This idiot set my kitchen on fire," said my wife, somewhat upset.

"Oh, I wouldn't be too hard on your husband," said our wonderful Fire-Marshal. "Your house was built in the 1950s, and it's basically a giant fire-trap. I'd say it was an accident just waiting to happen."

"You see!" I turned to my wife triumphantly. "You're always blaming me whenever something goes wrong. Thank goodness our wonderful Fire Marshal came along to set you straight."

"But what about my kitchen?" wailed my wife.

"Not to worry," said Fire Marshal Obamavich. "I've contacted a construction crew, and they'll start working on new foundations for your home shortly. And we've got another firm installing a central heating system. And, of course, you'll need a new boiler."

"BUT WHAT ABOUT MY KITCHEN?" repeated my wife, her voice rising to what, even for her, was an unprecedented level of shrillness.

"Enough with the kitchen, already!" I admonished her. "You can't expect Fire Marshal Obamavich to take care of everything all at once." My wife is a kind-hearted soul, but she's never been able to grasp the Big Picture.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Shattan," said Fire Marshal Obamavich reassuringly. "Once we take care of the root causes of this incident, you'll never have to worry about this sort of thing again."

"The root cause of this incident," said my wife rather unkindly, "was allowing my boob of a husband to cook our breakfast." As she spoke, I couldn't help but notice tiny flecks of foam forming around the delicate curve of her mouth.

Well, needless to say, there was no cause for alarm. Now that our house has burned down, the construction crew has sharply lowered its estimates, and we should be getting a new foundation at less than half the original cost. The cost of a new central heating system was a bit higher than expected, but the savings it will generate over the next twenty years (lower heating bills, less-costly maintenance, and a life-time subscription to House Beautiful) will be substantial. This is quite fortunate, really, since my wife suffered a nervous breakdown, and will require extensive medical care.

Meanwhile, our new boiler is expected to arrive tomorrow. Now that we don't have a basement, I'm not sure where to put it, but Fire Marshal Obamavich has offered to help out. What a great guy!

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About the Author

Joseph Shattan is the author of Architects of Victory: Six Heroes of the Cold War.