Veteran teller Katy Kinard tells us of remembering what really happened during those times when everyone was praising her–things involving fires and strip poker. 

“(Gasp) I can’t believe this kitchen!  You girls are the BEST kids!  Sara, you need to invite Katy to spend the night more often!”

I stood with my middle-school-best-friend in a room filled with the smell of strong Pine sol and success – and a big smile on my face.  Sara’s mom went on and on about how shiny the counters looked, how clean the floors – all the dishes washed and put away – and we “even cleaned the oven??” What kind of angels were we??  She had given us permission to cook ourselves breakfast while she went off to work that morning… but for us to go above and beyond cleaning up after ourselves… I mean, we were celestial.

But I remember… what really happened that day.

We were watching old re-runs of Saved By the Bell, and they must have been amazingly distracting episodes.  I also remember her dog playing with us and Sara explaining in great detail how the poor little pugs eyeballs had been operated on several times as they kept falling out of his eye sockets, and this was way more disturbingly enthralling… than the smoke billowing out of the kitchen.

Sara’s parents had a gas stove, and if you have one, you know the broiler has actual fire spread out above the food it’s broiling.  WE thought it’d be a great idea to empty an entire package of bacon into the broiler…apparently we were hungry… and we wanted it good and crispy.

Well.

It suddenly hit us that we had forgotten about the bacon altogether, and we ran into the kitchen to find visible flames peeking out of the sides of her oven along with the smoke – and a large pool of grease running out onto the kitchen floor.

We jumped around screaming in hysterics… That didn’t work, so we argued about who would pull out the broiler drawer and who would put out the fire, and we searched for a fire extinguisher.  It didn’t help when we found it, because we couldn’t figure out how to use it, so Sara’s idea was that I would open the oven and she would pour a giant pot of dirty dishwater onto the greasy fire.

I deliberated with her about this proposed plan.  I went into a story about how my mom said baking soda was a good idea to pour on a grease fire… and I ran around throwing every cabinet open, muttering like a mad man, “Baking soda baking soda baking soda!  Where’s your baking soda!  Why do you people have no baking soda??”

Sara, the cooler one of the two of us, thought this was the dumbest thing she ever heard.  “Forget about F-in baking soda – We have to put out this fire!”  She opened the drawer and dumped the water all over the bacon, causing the flames to retaliate in anger and shoot up toward the ceiling, spreading out across the upper cabinets, while grease and water and burning bacon slices flew all over the kitchen floor.

I was very much torn between caring about this problem – and saving my life… as I recalled the fact that this was a GAS stove and could probably blow up at any moment.  I think twice I ran outside into the winter air and the piled up snow mounds and debated whether I should save myself and run – or stay with my friend.

I stopped being cowardly and ran inside to further search for baking soda as Sara pulled out screws and pieces of the fire extinguisher and slammed it against the counter until it finally busted enough to produce blue foam.  At this moment, I found a full bag of flour in the cabinet and ran over as Sara put out the fire with the blue foam and I dumped the entire bag of flour on top.

After it had already been put out.

It was quite a lovely scene at that point.  Pools of grease, chunky flour-water-grease globs and charred bacon, along with blackened walls and cabinets.

I’m honestly surprised the black coating scrubbed completely off, and I can’t believe we got the whole kitchen clean… We opened every door and window and let in the 20-degree wind for 4 hours, but even so, I can’t believe it aired the house out enough to get rid of the smell.  Thank goodness her parents were smokers and thank goodness for the strength of Pine sol.

Fast forward a few years.  My parents are glowing.  It’s right after school and they have just received word that I was voted student of the year by all of the teachers in my grade.  I remember hugs and kisses…  I’m pretty sure my favorite hamburger helper was cooked that night, and homemade peach cobbler – because I deserved it.  I was an upstanding teenager and American citizen and I was in “Who’s Who Among American Students” – a book I think we had to pay for me to be in – (and I think all of you guys were in there too), but anyway! I remember… what really happened that day.

“Come on Katy, we’re not going to get caught.  Just meet us by the bike racks.  Heidi’s coming, and so is Emmy and Sara and your step brother and his friend.”  It was my time to prove myself, you see… All my friends were in the druggie crowd, and I was already ashamed that I didn’t have as many D’s or F’s as they had, or detentions – I had never even been to Juvenile Hall – and I could never seem to rise to their level of coolness – so this was my chance, you guys.

After homeroom was out, I nonchalantly slipped out of the side door around the back of the building, and at the opportune moment, each one of us ran toward the bike racks and then across the wide field toward the woods.

My heart was beating out of my chest, as I knew some kind of city-wide siren was going to go off and the dogs were going to sic us any moment.  We sprinted into the woods out of breath, until the shadows covered us completely, then we crouched down and peeked back at the tiny school between the branches.

I. could not.  believe it.  I was skipping school.  There was no turning back and I had been brave and valiant.

That feeling lasted very shortly, as my friends took out their bags of weed and passed it around for all to smoke.  Suddenly I was the good girl again, because up to this point, I had grown ok with smoking cigarettes but it would be several more months until I graduated within myself to the level of trying pot.

Let me explain that for me, smoking cigarettes was actually slowly blowing on the cigarette – and it would burn up the end and look like I was smoking – My friends didn’t know the difference – and they were impressed with my strength and resolve one day when I courageously quit my addiction. But back to the woods.

We walked along back roads and into deeper woods to reach the private property of Thunderbird Ranch, which included my house.  Ours was one of several cabins that used to be part of a camp, and one of those cabins was a chapel.  We ran inside, shut the door, and played strip poker.

…yeah.  I’m not sure why lightning didn’t crash down upon us… but I will say the worst that happened was Heidi stripping down to her bra and underwear, and I don’t remember having to remove anything exciting.

We left in time to get back to school for the last class of the day.  I’m not sure why we even returned, but I remember sitting calmly in my seat at the start of algebra when I heard the dreaded words over the intercom:  “Katy Kinard, please come to the office.”
I froze and sank in my seat, the thoughts turning over and over about the consequences that would soon follow.  My classmates stared at me and reminded me again what was just said over the intercom… so I got up and took the long walk of shame to the front office.

I sat and waited – the receptionist explaining that the principal himself wanted to talk to me in private.  I rehearsed what I might say and tried to think how brave I could be if he asked who else I was with… I would try to say as little as possible and hope for the best.

“Katy – please come in.”

I sulked in and sat down as he walked around behind his desk and pulled out a scary, official-looking paper of some sort.
“Congratulations, you have been chosen student of the year by the entire staff of teachers!  I wanted to tell you myself of this great honor…”

I remember… being way too lucky growing up.

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