Now, Stew just this evening learned a very valuable lesson. Stew has a persistent problem with fire. Fire hates him. If he were a supervillain, fire or extreme heat would be the way he would be vanquished. Sadly, Stew has no superpowers to accompany his vulnerability: it's entirely likely that it's just the extreme amount of alcohol in his system that makes him go up like a flaming shot.
Stew also has some other vulnerabilities: for instance, he smokes on occasion, but only when he can bum cigarettes off of others, or the occasional cigar. He also is occasionally makes anal retentive attempts to clean things--the feeling doesn't last long, so he usually attempts to do sporadic cleaning when the feeling moves him.
Also, Stew occasionally sucks at crisis management.
Let's just accept all these as Givens when listening to this story. About my friend. Who we're calling Stew for no reason whatsoever.
So, one night (let's just call it Wednesday night, for shits and giggles) Stew is having his customary evening slew of drinks, unwinding after a long day. He decides to reward himself with a cigar, which he regretably can't stop himself from inhaling half the time. Stew really misses being a smoker.
When the cigar is done being smoked, Stew stubs it out in an ashtray that's almost overflowing. He is briefly inspired to clean up the ashtray, but it too lazy to actually do anything more than toss it into a plastic bag that's been sitting next to his computer with some of the remains of fast food wrappers and plenty of paper towels.
Stew fixes himself another screwdriver, and returns to notice an odd smell around his computer desk. The window is open on the night air, and of course, weird smells are par for the course when you live in New York City. So nothing seems out of place until a plume of smoke waffs between him and the computer.
Stew shouts a lot of gibberish intended to be profanity and starts stomping on the bag. When he thinks it's been put out, he picks up the bag, which has been melted through, and is thus leaking ash and smouldering paper towel bits. He runs through the apartment, with one hand under the bag, catching the flaming ash as it falls.
His first instinct is to toss the bag out the window, but he's afraid that there will be people in the street who see him toss it out of this lighted window, so he goes into the kitchen, completely bypassing the sink where he could have run it under the tap a little bit to make sure it wouldn't start up again. Instead, he tosses it out the kitchen window without turning on the light, hoping that any passersby will just see some trash floating down and not know where it comes from, and thus, not worry about it at all.
Stew returns to his computer and polishes off the entire screwdriver in two long drinks. He comforts himself that his ordeal is over.
Five minutes pass, and Stew refreshes his drink.
Stew returns to his computer with a fresh drink, and feels an odd sense of deja vu. At times when the wind blows in from outside just right, Stew smells that burning papertowel and plastic smell again. He's seriously confused, and explores all around his desk. Suddenly, the penny drops, and he runs to the kitchen window. The kitchen window opens on the fire escape, and sticking his head out, he can see that the plastic bag he threw out is two stories down, stuck on the fire escape, and smoking furiously.
Stew feels his bladder loosen, but catches himself and then gets to work. He moves all the clean glasses that were set on the windowsill to dry, and then tries to get out the window. The pipe he grabs to try to give himself leverage to boost himself out the window is unexpectedly hot, and he falls backwards, sending teetering a fancy wine glass his roommate is very attached to. Stew manages to regain his balance and grab the glass just as it tips. It is the only thing in the entire debacle he is genuinely proud of doing.
Stew briefly abandons going out the window. He grabs a large glass, fills it with water, and starts flinging the water at the bag, hoping to put it out.
Stew fails at doing anything but wetting the fire escape. He realizes that he is no longer in his own life, but rather a movie farce. He wonders briefly, "What would Peter Sellars do?" but quickly realizes that a) Peter Sellars was a comic genius, and b) Peter Sellars definitely had stunt double for the more dangerous shit.
He gives up that line of attack, and climbs out the window without breaking anything, a full glass of water in his hand. He starts to go down the fire escape, thankful that his roommate's blinds are closed as he passes. He is one flight down when he hits a patch of wetness and feels his foot slide out from under him. He briefly thinks that he's just become a Darwin Award Winner, but he thankfully does nothing worse than sit down really hard on the fire escape steps and spilling half of the water glass on his crotch.
Stew reaches the bag. Which now has bone fide flames coming out of it. He upends the rest of the water into it, enjoying the sputtering noise as the fire goes out. Stew tosses the sodden bag off the fire escape, watching as it falls onto bare concrete away from anything else potentially flammable.
Stew changed his pants, returned to his computer, and really wants everyone to promise that they'll never speak of this debacle ever again.