Disclaimer: I thought long and hard about whether to share this story. With the full permission and encouragement of my niece and her father, I share it here with you.
Spoiler: If you are uncomfortable with the mention of a naked butt, please do not read any further. That said, this is a PG rated story. I promise.
One of my favorite children's picture books is When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. When I used to read it, I thought it was so much like when my own relatives came to visit. It's set in Virginia, there's lots of hugging, people sleeping wherever they can find a spot, etc.
I realized this weekend though, that's pretty much where the similarities end. In the book no one misbehaves, there are no mishaps or shenanigans, or grumpy teenage boys. And there's definitely no naked fires.
What? You don't know what a naked fire is?
I didn't either...until my relatives came.
So, let me preface this story by saying that I am the cool aunt. All the teens congregate at my house, sleep on my floor, eat my food and make all the noise. I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. Every so often I have to fuss at them to get their make-up, nail polish, sodas and snacks off my carpet. Other than that I'm chill enough, I guess, because they keep coming back.
Before I start, I acknowledge in the following story, many mistakes were made. Some were mine, some were not. No one here is faultless.
So, on Sunday, all of the teenaged girls decided they needed showers. After a weekend full of people, I was low on towels. Jaci got a towel. Olivia got a promise that one would be delivered to the bathroom door by the time she was finished. I gave Cole that task. But he was in a mood and could not be bothered to stop watching Chuck. I could not be bothered with a kid with an attitude and told him to get off his fanny and get that towel. He did but he was not walking it all the way up the stairs. He hucked it up at the balcony but it didn't quite make it and it landed back on the living room floor.
I made the first mistake. I laughed at an already grumpy teenager for having weak T-rex arms. He was ticked. He picked that towel up and threw it as hard as he could. Not only did it make it over the balcony, it made it over the other side of the balcony and landed right on top of my foyer chandelier.
In an effort not to break the chandelier (because I tend to break lots of really expensive things), I asked Bryan to get the towel down. He walked in, looked at the situation, mumbled about how stupid we were for getting a towel stuck way up there and walked away. I repeat, HE WALKED AWAY. He did not get the towel off the chandelier. Cole shrugged and walked away too. So I shrugged and went back to watching Janna cutting off all of Emma's beautiful hair.
A few minutes later the little kids asked if I could turn the lights on outside since the sun had set and they couldn't see.
I can never remember which lights go with which switches so I just started flipping all of them. Voila, they were back to playing.
After a thirty minute shower, Olivia popped her head out and said, "Hey, I really need that towel." Dang. I'd totally forgotten there was a reason the whole towel debacle had started in the first place. I walked into the laundry room and grabbed a clean one.
But on my way back, I smelled smoke.
"Why does it smell like something's burning?" I asked everyone in the room.
Olivia popped her head around the corner at the top of the balcony. "Because that towel on the chandelier is smoking."
Crap! I'd turned on the chandelier light without knowing it. I slapped off the light and took off running, sprinting up the stairs. With each step I could see my brand new house going up in flames. But when I got to the top, the chandelier was swinging like a trapeze in the circus and my niece was huddled behind the half-opened bathroom door with the towel in her hands.
"Oh my gosh, thank you!" I said. But then the towel burst into flame in my hands and I ran down the stairs, yelling. Of course, Bryan told me to smother the flame and he got the towel outside.
The house was saved.
Finally, when it was over and I had a second to breathe, I realized...
Olivia had leaned way over that balcony full-on butt-naked to get the towel off the light. What a sight that must've been.
And thank goodness not a single soul saw it.
Talk about tender mercies.
When I asked her about it she simply said, "I wasn't going to let your house burn down."
And I loved her even more.
So that's the kind of thing that happens when my relatives come. And I'm totally okay with that.