I had fallen asleep standing with a cigarette in my hand. Every now and then I would pucker my lips and take a drag or tap some ash into my enormous cargo pocket. Once, I heard the smoke alarm go off. And then I smelled burning hair. I couldn't tell if it was someone else's or my own. I opened an eye, half-asleep, and dialed the fire department.
"Fire Department," a voice said. "We're all here, you're on speaker, and we're guessing, hoping, and praying that this is a neighborly courtesy call. And before we go even one step further I can tell you: We're A-OK. In fact, we're having a blast. Jimmy just put on the hit parade..."
"Oh, dear," I said. "I feel terrible to pause that fun, I hear the guys and I love Paul Anka, but I'm afraid it's a bit serious, fellas, or at least it might be. You know, due diligence and all."
I immediately regretted calling the fire department. They were all just starting to wind down, to relax, surely feeling the relief that comes from a day's close. The pole had been greased for tomorrow’s maiden slide. The Dalmatian asleep, the chief sober. I felt uneasy to send the whole vibe to a very dark place, but the smell was getting worse, so I pressed on. "I have a strong suspicion that my hair is on fire."
—You and I will be as free, Paul sang. As the birds up in the trees—
"Well no, no that's not good at all," one of the firemen said. "Can you see that your hair is, actually, on fire?" another asked. "Can you get to a mirror?"
"I'm afraid not," I said. "Any sudden movement would surely fan the flame. And besides, my vision isn’t entirely keen, I only have one eye open, I was barely able to pick up the phone..."
“Good point,” the original voice said. “What about touching your hair, can you feel it?”
—Oh my darlin', oh my lover. Tell me that— Paul is such a talent.
“I’m afraid not,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to risk burning my hand.”
“Good point,” a voice said. “Well, are you finding that the room has gotten warmer? Does your face feel flushed?”
“Well, now that you ask, it’s actually a little chilly in here. In fact, now I'm quite comfortable, but it’s just this smell, this burning hair smell, it's really getting to me, so much that I’ve grown used to it at this point, I don’t even smell it any longer. It’s a fixture of my nostrils, as far as we’re concerned,” I said.
"Squeeze me baby with a-all your might, Oh, please, stay by me, Diana,” a chorus of firemen began singing along.
“Turn it up, Jimmy!” I shouted. Paul crooned and boomed. All of us we’re having a blast at this point. “Wow,” I yelled. “Paul’s awesome.”
I got so excited. I reached inside my cargo pocket and grabbed a handful of cigarette ash and threw it up in the air like it was glitter and as it scattered over my body I swept my arm back and began to spin, cinching my waist with the telephone cord.