Thursday, October 23, 2008

burning down the house

Thoughts are funny things. Especially the weird ones. While I realize that statement just made me sound like a complete idiot, allow me to redeem myself. Like I said, weird thoughts are funny. It doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing. If a strange thought pops up, you have to sit up and pay attention.

Lately, I've been kind of idle. I have, at many occasions, caught myself staring off at a distance. Sometimes, I space out in the middle of conversations. My mind's just blank and uncooperative for some strange reason. It's been said that idle hands are the devil's playground but no one ever said anything about idle minds. Until now, that is.

Last night, I was drinking tea to make me sleepy. I was staring at the box, waiting for the kettle to boil and I noticed that the bear in the picture was wearing a sleeping gown. You know those really old ones that all the grannies in the movies wear? I wondered what it was like at the mall that day when the tea-drinking-bear went shopping for pajamas. Did people get scared? How hard was it to find one in his size?

Lacking opposable thumbs, I wondered who lit the fire in his fireplace. Beside him is a sleeping cat and I wondered, in a world where bears can drink tea and build fires, what happened to the cats? They're certainly more domesticated and (we had a lot of cats growing up) are certainly more human in terms of mood swings. Why couldn't the cat drink tea and wear that gown and own a pet bear instead?

I usually have thoughts like that in bursts. They're very quick to pass and usually far in between. I just get about two every couple of weeks and that's it. Today was different though. Let me tell you.

We had a fire drill this afternoon and the administration from Pacific Star really went all the way for this one. On cue, about five firemen bearing extinguishers and axes stormed through the twelfth floor and there was fake smoke all over. People with cameras were everywhere. I felt like I was in the middle of a movie.

Anyway, we had to take the stairs to go to the ground floor where there was clean air and the fake fire couldn't get us. People were shouting KEEP RIGHT!!! KEEP RIGHT!!! and the bored steps of people dragged out of their desks formed the bass line for that day's song.

Five flights down, a weird thought popped into my head. What if this was real? I started to hold on to my chest and I breathed really deeply (like I was getting suffocated or something). Then I started to think about the things that I would leave behind. What would happen to the people I love? Who would inherit my immense collection of pirated CDs? Who would come to my funeral? The casket has to be closed if my body gets all screwed up.

I almost dismissed it as another quick weird thought but by the time we reached the ground floor, I realized it wasn't. I hoped that the thoughts would stop. No, they didn't. Yes, there's more.

They set up this stage and a couple of trainers were in the show. Scene: a "typical" day at the office. People were talking in the pantry and all of a sudden this huge fire starts. People were fainting and grabbing fire extinguishers and breaking the glass in that big red box. I don't know what it's called but it's the one that says Break Glass In Case Of Fire (go figure). I thought about that pane of glass and its journey to that big ol' box. I wondered how many people got together to make that pane of glass. Would they have exerted as much effort if they knew that somebody would just break it in case of fire? And how does that pane feel when he/she/it looks at the hose? Why don't they break the hose and kill the fire with that pane of glass? What makes that silly hose more important?

And then they had this man in a stretcher and he was lowered on a set of (hopefully) sturdy cables. He had his eyes closed and everything. He looked like a dummy from where I stood but as they lowered him down, we were all surprised that he was actually a person. I wondered what thoughts were in his head. Was he scared? Did they prep him for this? Did it occur to him to call in sick that day? More importantly (being completely self-centered, I also wondered), what if that were me?

Then I started to hold on to my chest again as though I couldn't breathe. Would my parents be notified? I looked at my ID and saw my dad's name and number. At least they would contact him once they've killed the fire and stripped off the burning pieces of my shirt. Burning pieces of my shirt... I panicked. Would the people notice my fatness if I was burning? How many people would see? Can you give me a ballpark figure?

At that point, the program concluded and I was forced to rejoin the world where weird thoughts shouldn't be entertained. As I made my way back up to the office, I wondered when the next attack of the weird thoughts would take place.

Now I've always considered myself to be a little strange. Early on, I learned that the key is to keep these thoughts in your head and stop before they come out of your mouth. If you're good and you eat all your vegetables, maybe (just maybe) no one will think you're completely bonkers.

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