Wednesday, December 02, 2020

It occurred to me that I didn’t know how to operate the fire extinguisher in the corner cabinet under the sink. It had stood there behind the U pipe, next to the leftover tiles, ever since we bought the place ten years ago. In the back of my mind it was always, there’s a fire extinguisher there if there’s a fire.

But today I imagined a short circuit over by the TV, maybe something the cats did, sparks shooting, smoke, flames, the cabinet alight, the album collection smoldering, vinyl dripping like molasses on the floor. I’d go get it of course. But then I’d hold it up idiotically, fumbling with it, not knowing what to pull or push or squeeze.

I knelt down and opened the door. The thing was farther away than I remembered; I had to press my face against the stove to reach it. In the bright kitchen light I examined the cartoon instructions on the side. Pull the pin. (Like a grenade.) Squeeze the thing and aim for the base of the fire. Sweep back and forth.

I brushed off the dust that had accumulated on the canister’s shoulder. I gave the pin a little tug, just to have the ghost of the muscle memory I’d need. It seemed flimsy, ready to be ripped away. I fingered the lever gingerly. And then I knelt back down and put the thing back for another decade. But closer to my reach this time.