The night before Dad and Lynda planned to leave our house, my father decided to make tuna. Lynda liked only raw tuna, and the rest of us preferred it cooked, so we planned on having the tuna, and Lynda said she’d eat some of the many leftovers in the refrigerator. In my spice rack, I had a jar of sesame seeds. My father loves sesame tuna but never makes it at home because Lynda is deathly allergic to sesame. Spotting the jar, my father decided to coat the tuna in sesame seeds and then tossed the fish into the frying pan.
I guess the frying pan was too hot, because a searing sound and the smell of sesame suddenly filled the kitchen.
Lynda, who was busy chopping vegetables, started yelling, “Turn the fan on. Turn the stove down. Turn the fan on.”
My father, unsure of how to turn the fan on, began calling for help from Chris. Meanwhile, both dogs became quite interested in all of the excitement in the kitchen and ran in to help. Stepping back to get a better look at the hood above the stove, my father tripped on Sadie, who was sticking her nose in the garbage can.
“Jesus Christ, get out of here, dogs,” he said, his voice rising. “Where’s the fan? I can’t find the fan. How do you turn the fan on?”
I had been nursing John in the sunroom, the room adjacent to the kitchen, and thought I could help out, so I brought Baby John in with me, still attached to my breast, and turned the fan on for my father. Chris had been listing items on eBay and working in his office, but he came into the kitchen to drag both dogs out of the fray.
Lynda and my father insisted I sit back down and nurse John, so I sat on the dog bed next to the pellet stove, only to hear the loud crackle of frying oil a moment later.
“What are you doing?” Lynda cried.
“I had to add oil,” my father responded.
The dogs began to bark and howl because Chris had put up a gate blocking their entrance to the kitchen. The fan seemed to only spread the smell of frying sesame seeds.
“Oh my god,” Lynda screamed as she ran out of the kitchen, fumbled over the dog gate, and threw the front door wide open. Then she ran back through the kitchen, exclaiming, “Now it’s airborne. I can’t breathe. We need cross-ventilation. It’s awful! I can’t breathe.”
Lynda opened the sliding glass door in our sunroom and thrust her head out, yelling, “Jesus Fucking Christ! Jesus Fucking Christ!”
The kitchen was filling up with smoke, and my father said, “I don’t know why the smoke isn’t going away. I didn’t know this would happen. I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
My father began spinning in circles, waving a towel in the air. Lynda grabbed her pocketbook and began rummaging through it, looking for her EpiPen. Shaking her head, she said, “What were you thinking? Are you trying to kill me?”
The dogs knocked the gate down and ran back into the kitchen. Riley thought my father was waving the towel as part of a game, and she began leaping into the air, trying to bite the towel, while Sadie managed to wedge herself between my father’s legs.
“I can’t do this. I don’t know why everything’s so smoky,” my father called out. “Can I get some help in here?” he called.
Without saying a word, Chris swiftly appeared in the kitchen. He went straight to the stove and took the frying pan off the burner. He grabbed two treats and led the dogs into another room. When he returned, he said evenly, “So, who needs a drink?”
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