I had the privilege of hosting my brother and his best friend from Idaho in my apartment the week prior to our Christmas Eve game. My efforts to show them every facet of Dallas included visits to Dealey Plaza, The Dallas Museum of Art and Northpark. They even attended a Stars hockey game in addition to Rally Days at the stadium and the Cowboys game. Between my hectic work schedule, playing tour guide and having DCC practice, I neglected to keep my apartment orderly by the end of their stay. This small aspect of the story just adds to the overall impression you’ll have by the end of the article.
So let’s fast forward to Ally dropping me off at my apartment after the sad loss to the Eagles. My brother and his friends were still having a grand time somewhere in Arlington (with my car) and this left me alone in my messy, cold, apartment on Christmas Eve. I was too tired to change clothes and left my pink suitcase right inside my front door.
What’s the best way to celebrate not wearing that uniform for at least another week? Cooking a frozen pizza! Granted, the only reason I even had one in my freezer was in case my brother wanted to eat it … thank goodness what transpired didn’t happen to him!
After a few minutes of pre-heating my oven, I noticed weird smells coming from the kitchen. I just recently moved into this apartment and had never used my oven. I dismissed the smell and tossed my gourmet Italian frozen pizza into the 425° oven and collapsed on the couch to watch some quality TV directed through my antenna. I was too tired to go shower and my lack of hygiene at this moment paid off; the fire alarm started going off after 10 minutes and I could definitely smell smoke.
I rushed into the kitchen and flung the oven door open to retrieve what I thought was going to be a burnt pizza. I found however, a still very uncooked pizza and visible flames leaping up from the bottom of my oven and out from under it. I was confused as to where the flames were coming from but wanted to take no chances with this new, and unknown gas oven. I shut everything off and unplugged it from the wall. It could’ve exploded or something!
There was definitely a moment of panic when I called 9-1-1 and told them I had flames coming out from under my oven. The dispatcher ordered me to get outside and to evacuate my upstairs neighbors. After getting the neighbors outside, I went back into my kitchen and kept the flames at bay by splashing water under my oven. I was very thankful my wood floors did not extend into my kitchen and that it was in fact tile.
The firemen who responded were so nice and patient with me. They found a pot stored in the drawer under the oven had plastic handles and a knob on the lid that got too hot and caught fire. They stopped the fire, removed the burned pot and started to ask me for my information. I began to spell my name and the fireman pointed to my old DCC locker room nametag I have hanging on my wall and said, “Is it spelled like that?” I confirmed that was correct and it was painfully obvious they knew I was a cheerleader. Gosh, I was still in my rhinestoned warmups with full hair and makeup amidst DCC paraphernalia scattered throughout my apartment.
In retrospect it’s funny, but in the moment I was so embarrassed! It was Christmas Eve, I was by myself, my apartment was a pigsty and smelled like boys, I was trying to make a frozen pizza for dinner and I was watching the free channel that was playing an old Shirley Temple movie about Christmas.
After the nice firefighters left, I settled for an apple and fat-free peanut butter. No cooking involved! It made for a great story once my brother and his friend finally got home, and I organized a massive all-apartment clean before they could go to bed.
Thank you to the fire department for quickly responding and for not openly judging how a DCC was spending her Christmas Eve.