“The Flaming Heads of Housework”

While going through some old computer files the other day, I came across this old, old, old thingy!  It’s very random…just kind of a dumb story about when I caught my hair on fire while cleaning the bathroom once.  Like I said…VERY random!

Cleaning the Bathroom

Otherwise Known As:  The Flaming Heads of Housework

My least favorite part of housework?  That’s easy–cleaning the bathrooms.  And let me tell you this…it’s even worse when your hair is on fire.  Seriously.  I mean, who likes to clean the bathrooms?  It just isn’t one of the more carefree chores around.  Whether you’re a Clorox user, Ajax user, Soft Scrub user or even a Clorox Wipes user, it’s just not something we all yearn for.

Now, personally, my cleanser of choice is Soft Scrub…abrasive without being damaging, a hint of bleach aroma (not too overpowering) and seems to get the job done per my expectations.  Still, it’s a dirty job and somebody has to do it.  And, of course, everyone has different priorities when it comes to bathroom accessories.

For instance, when Kevin and I were first married, the store had this beautiful, pink, ruffly shower curtain that I wanted.  So, I saved up $30.00 (a lot for a shower curtain back in 1985) and bought this beautiful, pink, ruffly shower curtain.  Oh, it looked great!  Pink, ruffly shower curtain, matching pink rugs, pink toilet seat cover and pink tank cover…the bathroom looked like it had been hosed down with the pinky pink stain The Cat in the Hat is trying to get rid of in The Cat in The Hat Comes Back.  It was lovely!

And then there’s the toilet brush incident that comes in to play in each newly wed couple’s life.  I had been taught to clean the toilet bowl with rubber gloves and some sort of disposable cleaning item such as an old rag, disposable sponge or brush.  My mom hated toilet brushes, “perfect habitat for germs,” so we never had one in my house growing up.  However, Kevin’s mom was pretty handy with a toilet brush and therefore, so is Kevin.  (Now, this is one of the many fabulous things about Kevin…he shares bathroom cleaning responsibilities!)  So, there we were…a newly wed couple…one toilet brush user and one disposable rubber glove and sponge user.

Well, about 11 months into our first year of marriage, the time came for our first interstate move.  Yep, we were off to a new state, a new apartment and a new bathroom!  And when we arrived in the new apartment I took the “bathroom” box into the new bathroom and began the task of putting together the lavatory.  I unpacked the pink rugs, the pink toilet seat cover, the pink tank cover…and then, the last thing in the bathroom box, wrapped up in a plastic grocery sack, was our toilet brush!  My beautiful, pink, ruffly, $30.00 shower curtain was nowhere to be found.  Only a .33, and I might add, well used, toilet brush.

“Kevin!” I hollered, trying to remain calm.  “Where’s the shower curtain?”

“Oh, that thing,” Kevin answered calmly, sauntering into the new bathroom.  “I threw that ol’ thing away.”

“Threw it away?” I cried.  “But the toilet brush is in here,” I pointed out.

“Well, we needed that,” he responded.

So, for the next 19 years we’ve joked about the $30.00 shower curtain that got thrown out in favor of the .33, used toilet brush.

That being neither here nor there, bathroom cleaning is not my activity of choice.  Still, it has to be done.  And so, a couple of years ago, there I was…cleaning the upstairs bathroom, the one adjoining my bedroom…just a cleaning away.  Soft Scrubbing until my little heart was content.  (Actually, I was grumbling and complaining the entire time.)  Anyway, there was a little, footed, heart-shaped, ceramic candle holder, complete with a lovely, scented, two-wicked candle within, sitting on a white doily, on a forest green towel (doubling as a tank cover), on my toilet tank.  Well, as candles do, this little candle had accumulated a bit of dust and as I was carefully dusting it, I broke off one of the tender wicks.  Now, as any scented candle-lover knows, once you’ve broken a wick, it’s murder trying to get the candle to stay lit afterward.  But I loved this little candle!  Therefore, I lit the wicks and set it back on the toilet tank so that I could relight it as needed while I finished up the joyous, ‘cleaning of the bathroom’.

There I was, whistling while I worked, scrubbing the counters, the toilet bowl, etc.  And then it was time for the floor.  As I was bent over the toilet seat, scrubbing the small piece of floor between the wall and the toilet bottom, an odd, “sizzle, crackle, sizzle,” noise, followed shortly by the undeniably familiar scent, rather stench, of burning hair.  (It was the same scent I’d smelled a few years earlier when I had risen early one winter’s morn, having forgotten to turn the thermostat up prior to retiring the night before, to a chilly house.  Well, we all know, no matter what the instructions on your gas stove read…i.e. ‘Do not use stove as an alternate heating source,’ your first inclination when you’ve let the house get too cold, is to turn on the gas stove burners and stand before it, warming your hands over the open flames while the waiting for the furnace to fire up.  So, there I stood, rubbing my hands together over the stove flames, when suddenly the all too familiar stench of burning hair reached by nostrils.

“Hmm,” I thought.  “I wonder where that all too  familiar stench of burning hair is coming from.”  Suddenly, I noticed the strange, “sizzle, crackle, sizzle,” noise coming from the vicinity of my arms.  Sure enough, the tiny hairs on my arms were pretty much gone, except for a few valiant ones, which had curled tightly into tiny, seared knots of what was once a hair.)  Yes, I could hear the sizzling, smell the foul stench of burning hair as I continued to clean the bathroom floor.  Finally, I stood up and glanced down at the candle still burning on the toilet tank.  It seemed fine and I couldn’t fathom where the smell and noise were coming from.  Everything seemed in order.  Until the sizzling got louder.  I turned to look in the mirror.  As I caught site of myself in the mirror (looking a bit like Michael Jackson during the infamous Pepsi-commercial-hair-caught-on-fire incident of the 1980’s) I thought simply, “Ahhhhh!  My hair’s on fire!”  Oh, it wasn’t a flaming inferno, by any means.  Just a wee breath of a fire.  Still, “Stop, drop and roll,” was driven completely from my mind and all I could do was hop around the very clean bathroom, smacking myself on the head, an occasional yelp emanating from my voice box, until the sizzling stopped and the stench of burning hair dissipated.

It’s funny how people, specifically hair stylists, expect there to be some dramatic explanation to the charred condition of your hair when you go in the next day to have the burnt area trimmed.  Well, sure I’d only been in for a hair cut three days before. But obviously I had been cleaning my bathrooms since then.  Hello?

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15 Responses to “The Flaming Heads of Housework”

  1. Dawn Sherman says:

    You’ve just made my day with that story! Thank you! xoxoxo

  2. Becki K. says:

    Oh my goodness!! Too funny! And you know how I love your randomness! Keeps things fun and interesting. Your story reminds me of the time that my sis-inlaw singed her hair. I was dating my husband, her brother, and there was a candle lit on the table. Her and I were sitting there hanging out and we were being silly. I dared her to stick a little bit of her hair in the candle, thinking that obviously she would not do it! She said, “Okay!!” and proceeded to stick a piece of her hair in the candle. I was shocked at how fast those flames licked at her hair and that unmistakable aroma of burning hair met my nostrils. I have teased her ever since about how I couldn’t believe that she took me up on my dare!

    I loved your blog post! And you know what? I think it would be a great little snippet to add into a book with one of the heroines!

  3. Stacey says:

    Oh my stars!! I think I may have peed a little picturing the whole scenario! Wowza! Who knew cleaning bathrooms could be so dangerous! My friend Dayna and I used to twist our hair till it was tight at our scalps, and burn any ends poking out, because we had read in a magazine it was how you get rid of split ends. Well, FYI… it doesn’t do anything but stink and make a bigger mess!;) I love this story, and as a hairstylist, I can’t say I have ever had anyone come in with burnt hair from cleaning a bathroom! lol! Another reason I love you so much!!

  4. Jennifer H says:

    Hilarious! ;^)

  5. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing Marcia! Now I really don’t want to clean the ol’ bathrooms…hahaha…ya gotta do what ya gotta do. =) Thanks for the chuckle…I needed that!

  6. Trina W says:

    I can’t wait to share this with my husband. I’ve never caught my hair on fire doing housework, but I have sent enough things up in flames for him to wonder if I have subconscious tendencies to be a pyro. My worst: I kept burning holes in the belly of my shirts during one of my pregnancies. I was HUGE and couldn’t reach the back burners easily; so I kept leaning into those front burners when cooking. The next thing I knew is the belly is smoking. Anyway, he might be comforted to know others have the talent. Thanks for sharing the fun!

  7. Laura says:

    Thanks for the laugh! I’m sure you weren’t laughing at the time, but it pretty funny to read about later! I’ll remember to NOT light any candles when cleaning my bathrooms =)

  8. Gina says:

    You are so funny! I can’t get over how the white doily, the pink ruffles, and the way you captured the truth about candle wicks…they are tender things…

    See you soon! I am coming to your dinner party and meet and greet in June!

    I use All Purpose Windex, and clean my toilet and sinks daily, btw. And you are right….I dont’ like it at all!

  9. Lena Mattice says:

    You are so funny. I wanted to post yesterday but couldn’t. I wanted you to know you made my day I laughed so hard. Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Heather H says:

    Haha! Funny stuff! I love that about your husband keeping the old yucky toilet brush and throwing out your shower curtain!!

  11. Kelsie says:

    Haha I I love this! I burst out laughing at work (blowing my cover that I was in face NOT working) But it was definately worth it!! Great story Marcia!! Keep them coming!
    Oh I will also be at your meet and greet and I’m bringing my little sis and her friend, sadly no dinner for us but we will be there for the other part of it!

  12. Lisa J. says:

    Love it! I have also singed a few things – I lit my hair on fire while blowing out my birthday candles when I was a kid, then almost lit my hair on fire while lighting our bbq as an adult, and then finally started a grease fire on the stove in the kitchen. Needless to say when the fire alarm goes off my husband just brushes it off as ‘Lisa’s cooking again.’

  13. Caralynn says:

    Heee Heee! I will always remember that from now on when I am cleaning toilets…(won’t be so boring anymore) Great detail, I could picture it in my head!

  14. So funny!!! Thanks for sharing such wonderful, down-to-earth stories!

  15. Valerie Wood says:

    Oh my!!! I laughed so hard reading this! My youngest daughter and her two friends were being silly playing at the same time I was laughing so hard reading this blog post….they thought I was laughing at their silliness and they started laughing harder…which made me laugh harder because, of course, I knew it wasn’t them making me laugh! But seriously, this is just exactly something that I would do including the delayed thought…what could possibly be causing that?

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