Thursday, July 29, 2010

Course Overload #2: "Fire Bad"

Every once in a while, something happened at my college that was truly out of the ordinary. One time, the plumbing in the MST building broke, and all the toilets overflowed; it would have been funny if the death toll hadn’t been so high. A few years later, a hurricane hit and everyone needed to be sent home for the weekend. Little did I know when I woke up one fine morning that it was going to be one of those days.

The college café was serving hot dogs.

I couldn’t believe it. After I found out the great news, I was eager to get to the café. I bolted from the steps I had been sitting on and began my one-man race to glory. Somewhere along the line I found my friend Dave, and we decided to partake in the rarity of the hot dogs together.

I was one of those sunny September afternoons; the kind of day that seems more like July or August than a school month. Everything was perfect: the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the smell of the freshly cut grass danced in the air, and millions of cubic feet of a highly flammable natural gas was leaking from a ruptured main somewhere near the dorms. Ah, that was the life.

Of course, Dave and I had no idea there was a gas leak and went skipping merrily to our potential deaths. As we approached the café, I noticed a huge group of people standing outside.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“It might have something to do with that natural gas smell,” replied Dave.

It looked like we were going to have to ask someone what was going on. I took a quick glance at the crowd, and fortunately I spotted my friend Sandy. She was standing near the entrance.

“What’s going on?” I asked, walking towards her.

“Apparently there’s some sort of gas leak,” Sandy replied.

I stopped for a moment, considering the possible repercussions of a gas leak. Specifically, I wondered if the hot dogs would be okay.

“What caused it?”

“Oh, it was probably the leprechauns,” said Sandy.

“The what?” I asked.

“The leprechauns,” she replied confidently. “I saw a few suspicious ones running around in Hudson before they evacuated us.”

“You mean to tell me there are leprechauns you consider non-suspicious?” interjected Dave.

“Wait, how long were you in there?” I asked, motioning towards the café.

“Like, two hours. I was going to leave as soon as I smelled the gas, but after a while, breathing it in makes you feel goooood.”

Well, that explained the leprechauns.

Much to my dismay, Dave and I decided that it would probably be in our best interest to eat somewhere else. Squirming our way out of the center of the crowd, something caught my eye. It was too far away for me to intervene. All I could do was look on in horror.

About ten feet away from me, a guy in a leather jacket was bringing a cigarette up to his mouth. He was mumbling something about classes being canceled to his friend, whose attention was firmly focused on the fire trucks that had just surrounded the campus. His other hand had a lighter. Slowly it rose to the edge of the cigarette.

My major happened to be Media Studies, so I’ll be the first to admit I do not have a long and prosperous career as a scientist ahead of me. But, I did pay attention in my high school Chemistry class just long enough to learn that natural gas is flammable. And that no matter how pretty and mesmerizing the Bunsen burner flame is you should never try to lick it. But that’s neither here nor there.

The only thing left for me to do was to stare death in the face, brace myself, and valiantly scream like a little girl. Luckily, in-between watching the mob of firemen come pouring out of the fire trucks, Cigarette Guy’s friend had turned around to speak with him.

“Hey,” Cigarette Guy’s friend began, “I just thought of something. Instead of pouring milk on my cereal in the morning, I could use vod… OH DEAR GOD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” Cigarette Guy barley had time to look up from his lighter before the punches came raining down on him like a tsunami. Ah, crisis averted.

With Cigarette Guy writhing on the ground and the firemen descending upon the college like moths to a flame, everything looked like it would be all right. Dave and I managed to weasel our way out of the crowd at last, and, breathing a sigh of relief, we watched the action from a safe distance.

“It’s a good thing that the guy with the cigarette didn’t light it,” commented Dave, watching the firemen knock down a clearly unlocked door and scramble inside the Café.

“Yeah,” I replied. “That would have been disastrous.”

Dave shook his head. “It would have really detracted from the Bonfire Club’s meeting.”

“Right. It’s not nice to – Wait, the Bonfire Club?”

“All right, guys, you can put the wood down here,” a voice yelled. I watched as about 25 students dropped armloads of branches and ply wood on the ground where Cigarette Guy and his friend had been standing.

“Darn it,” interjected another member of the group. “I left the gasoline in my dorm. Wait here and I’ll go get it.”

She trotted off happily.

“If you don’t mind, Dave, I think I’ll skip lunch today,” I said, walking to my car. Dave agreed, and soon we had gone our separate ways.

Like I said, every once in a while, something happened at my college that was truly out of the ordinary. Much like the time that the toilets overflowed, and the time the hurricane hit, I’m sure that faithful day will remain the minds of the students for years to come: The day Matt Frey turns down hot dogs is truly out of the ordinary.

Oh, and the gas leak was kind of weird too.

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