Yesterday, while I was reading, the alarm went off.
Let me just say that I have been in some very loud places in my day. On a wooden sidewalk beside Ni-agara Falls, where the roar was so deafening that conversing was like being at a foreign film without subtitles - people's lips moved, but you had no idea what they were saying. At rock concerts, right up against the speakers, where I thought the drummer was using my chest for his bass drum. Perhaps worst of all, in a day-care center of squalling three-year-olds. Yes, I have been around loud.
But I have never heard anything as loud as that alarm.
I jolted off the couch, clamped my hands over my ears, and frantically ran around the house.
I'm not entirely sure why. Three reasons, I think.
One, it scared the livin' bejeezus out of me.
Two, I thought I could run from the noise.
Three, I hoped I might stumble across a way to turn it off.
How, I wondered, swerving around, could the house be on fire - we just bought it. Houses that you just bought don't catch on fire. What was happening?
Then it came to me. Bruschetta.
I had put a couple of wedges of Italian bread topped with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and basil in the oven to broil. Then I went to the living room to read.
You're thinking, You left broiling foodstuffs alone in the oven? Why would you do something so stupid?
To that I would say, Um, 'cause, uh, I don't know.
Actually, there is a reason, albeit not a very good reason. (There never is in these cases.) But it's this: I didn't think it was going to do that.
Earlier, you see, I had put two other wedges of Italian bread slathered with oil, garlic, tomatoes, and basil under the broiler. They took so long to cook I wondered if the oven was broken.
So I thought it would be okay to put these two wedges of bread in and check on them a little later.