The summer after my sophomore year of college I lived in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. That summer I lived with a forty-seven-year-old voodoo practicing lesbian who was still trying to become a professional dancer, made friends with a homeless man who saved my life, and had all sorts of other adventures. But one fateful day I decided to make lunch.
I’m not a cook. I never cook. I am a hazard to all around me on the rare occasions that I try. But for some reason on this day I decided I needed to cook. We had a gas stove in the apartment. I hated lighting the burners, so I decided to use the oven. I don’t remember what I was making. I never actually made it to the eating part.
I got my food ready and opened the tray at the bottom of the oven to light whatever you call the fiery pit of death that makes the oven hot. The moment I struck the match I knew something was very wrong. I heard a pop. Thank God I had been around enough fire to know what that meant. I imagine orange flames bursting at my face, but I don’t really know what it looked like. I covered my face with my hands before the flames hit and ducked away from the stove. I reached over and turned off the gas without opening my eyes. I grabbed my keys and cell and ran out of the building. I called the super and then 911.
The building had a teeny tiny gas leak that started in my apartment. I was stuck wandering the streets of Hell’s Kitchen my hair burned and frizzed like a cartoon character who had been struck by lightning. The backs of my hands were shiny and raw, and the worst part: my eyelashes had been singed. A few hours later I was allowed back into my apartment. I cried in the shower as chunks from the front of my hair crumbled and fell in piles at my feet.
I was lucky to be alive, I know that. But my damn eyelashes. It took about six months for them to really start growing back. That was, we’ll call it, a few years ago and they still have never regained their full length. Until I was being lovingly taunted about my stubby lashes by a cast member. Desperation and Google helped me to find a lash solution. With a combination of Vaseline and vitamin E oil I once again have normal looking lashes. And a healthy phobia of gas stoves.