Thursday, September 2, 2010

Course Overload #14: "The Day I Was Almost Shot from a Cannon"

For some reason, I don’t ever expect these things to happen to me. It’s always some sunny, abnormally normal day, and I’m always just walking around, minding my own business, when something deranged happens and I’m traumatized, once again, for the rest of my natural days. I guess what I’m trying to say is that every day I wake up and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I’m finally happy with my life for once, I should skip my classes and stay in bed. Whatever material I miss in class will be made up for with my sanity.

So when I woke up one fine morning in October and the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was finally happy with my life for once, a little voice in my head started screaming like a little girl; a little girl waving a red flag with a skull and crossbones on it and wearing a yellow hard hat and a T-shirt with a neon orange “danger!” sign. Realizing it was a great day for me to be run over by a beer truck or attacked by a troupe of wandering ninjas, I took extra care in getting to school.

My first two classes that day went by without a hitch. I checked for gas leaks in every room before class and was very careful to not sit in the desks with giant skulls painted on them in human blood. Somewhere in between Western Civ and Modern American Fiction, a dirty man in a beat up ’77 Chevy pulled up to me, wearing a trench coat and dark sunglasses. He asked if I wanted some candy, or free kittens, or apples with razors in them. Everything looked so delicious, especially the kittens, but I knew it would lead to trouble.

I was actually going to make it to lunch without campus security arresting me for wearing white after Labor Day, or tiny, venomous beetles infesting my spleen. A sense of victory washed over me.

And then I heard the sirens and I knew it was all over. I knew that they were somehow meant for me, and that there was no way around the great pain they were about to deal to me. I simply kept walking to my car with my head down. I assumed it would be easy to spot my car now that it was the only one in the lot that was on fire.

“I always thought that sirens were so romantic,” said a random passerby to her boyfriend. “And fire trucks too, like the ones parked next to the girl’s dorms right now. Oh, let’s just get married, shall we?”

“I have to teach a class first.”

I thought that perhaps all the hot girls who live in those dorms had finally caused the place to burst into flames. I’d estimated that on hot days, the temperatures in there could rise to well beyond 200 degrees, and the students living those dorms would have to sleep on blocks of ice instead of beds.

Expecting to see an inferno of textbooks and laptops bursting through the doors and people leaping from the windows, I turned my head towards the building. There were about five fire trucks and 50 firemen, yes, but fortunately, there were no flames. I watched as a group of firemen kicked down a clearly unlocked door and rushed inside. Several groups of annoyed girls huddled together on the sidewalks, watching as the remaining firemen sprayed huge streams of water into all the open windows, just in case.

“What’s going on?” I asked one girl, who apparently had only one eyebrow.

“Those Godforsaken fire alarms go off all the time,” she replied. “I was putting on my makeup when it went off.”

Well, that explained the single eyebrow.

“It’s true,” interjected a shivering girl clad in only a white towel. “One time my boyfriend and I were just standing under one of the detectors and it went off.”

“Who’s your boyfriend?” I inquired.

“Johnny Depp.” Upon hearing this, I wondered why the alarm hadn’t gone off sooner. She continued, “I’ve learned to not use hot water in the shower; the steam sets it off sometimes. In fact, I was taking a cold shower when the alarm went off.”

“I’d take a cold shower too if I were going out with Johnny Depp,” I mumbled.

At that point I noticed the fire chief hovering over me. He looked rather upset. “Hey you, with the glasses!”

“Yes?” I said, puzzled.

“When was the last time you took a hot shower?” he asked. This question worried me on so many different levels.

“Uh… this morning,” I responded carefully.

He frowned. “It was this guy right here who set off the alarms!” he exclaimed. And then, looking at me – “Don’t you know it’s against the law to trip fire alarms when there’s no fire?”

“But that was five hours ago and I was 30 miles away!”

“It doesn’t matter,” interrupted one eyebrow girl. “Like I said, those alarms go off from the smallest things.”

“Looks like you’re going to be fired from the college,” said the fire chief.

“Don’t you mean expelled?” I asked, holding back tears.

“Nope, I mean fired. From this cannon,” replied the chief, pointing to the shinny metallic object that the firemen were already unloading from the truck. “That’s the punishment for setting off a false alarm.”

“I should know,” said a girl with a flat face.

Just then, wet towel girl broke free of the crowd. “Hey, there’s my boyfriend! Over here, Johnny!” With that, everyone gasped and turned to take a look. Silently thanking Mr. Depp, I stole the opportunity to sneak away.

Walking back to the lower parking lot, I muttered, “Well, at least it wasn’t my car that was on… oh no.” As I watched the smoke swirl around in the air, making pretty patterns that seemed to be mocking me from above, I cursed chirping birds and normal, sunny days for the rest of eternity.

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