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it's a beautiful day to pull a fire alarm
take it from me: one time, i pulled a fire alarm.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and yell at me about getting the newsletter on Monday instead of Sunday whatever. My fans (my mom) blew up my phone last night: Where’s the newsletter? I’m waiting for the newsletter. Where are the comedic one-liners you have about trending topics on Twitter? Where are the Cher tweets? When are you gonna buy me a house? Fans will not stop asking me these questions whenever I don’t send out the newsletter on Sundays at 7/6 CST. And I get it, ok? I appreciate the support. And I’ll tell you why it wasn’t out last night: the answer is that I didn’t know it was Sunday. I thought it was Saturday. And that is the answer. Let’s move on.
I had a conversation with my aunt the other day about how horrible the world is right now — how horrible the U.S. is right now — and how it’s hard for my generation to talk about it because so much of it is negatively affecting us. These things are important to talk about, but after so many school shootings, the continuing climate change natural disasters, and articles telling us that the reason why we’ll never be able to buy a house is that we’re lazy and don’t save the little money we make at our full-time jobs, we’re too tired to have conversations about them all the time. So instead of making jokes about these things right now (not school shootings obviously), I’m gonna do something different and tell you a funny story from my life since it is just so hilarious.
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For the people who know me well, this story is quite famous. When I was in the fifth grade at a school that will not be named for anonymity reasons (St. Viator Elementary School), I got in trouble for pulling the fire alarm. Before this point, I was known as a goody-two-shoes in school — 100s on all my spelling tests, no detentions, designated driver … like not in an alcohol way but in like an everybody’s running around the classroom and throwing pencils and I let them all know when the teacher was coming back to the room way. This is who I was. But then … I pulled the beloved fire alarm.
Here’s what happened: my school had an after-school kid care program that ran out of the cafeteria and the gym. At this point, I was able to get home using public transportation, so I didn’t need to go to kid care, but I did have basketball practice. Back in the day, I was a basketball star. I would constantly get hit on the head by basketballs that bounced off the rim, which would count as rebounds, so … a prodigy. Basketball practice was obviously in the gym, and since it was raining outside, my friend and I hung out in the gym with the kid care program until it was our turn to take over. There was a whiteboard right next to this old-timey fire alarm. It looked kinda like this:
While I did try to tell people after that it was a very simple accident, this isn’t something you can accidentally pull. You literally have to stick your fingers in there and get behind that lever and then pull it out. There is no mistake in pulling that fire alarm. So I might as well tell the truth here.
As we were drawing on the whiteboard, my friend who will not be named for anonymity reasons (Lindsay Lohan) impulsively pulled the fire alarm. And to her and my surprise, it did not go off. There was no sound or anything. So, as a sign of curiosity and bravery, I pulled it a second time. AND GUESS WHAT WENT OFF yeah the dumb fire alarm. Extremely loud alarm. Not one kid or supervisor of the kids reacted. And so I tried to close it and turn it off, but that is apparently not how fire alarms work. So I walked over to the kid care supervisor and told her that the sound we were all hearing was the fire alarm. And she said, “Oh, yeah, I was wondering what that sound was. Who pulled it?” to which I replied, “I did.” Bravery. But also, this led me to believe that no one had ever heard the sound of the fire alarm before, which meant that I was actually saving future lives because now they would all know what the fire alarm sounded like. No regrets. She lined up all the kids, and we waited for the fire department to arrive.
Now it’s time to remind everyone that I was 10 years old. I was dumb. I was innocent. I was baptized, therefore I had no malicious intent. I was not the enemy. The fire department knew this. “You can’t be pullin’ the fire alarm for fun because next time we won’t come if there’s a real fire.” A risky decision for the fire department to make, but it was understood by me. They spoke to me like I was 10. But my fifth-grade teacher (the same teacher who tripped over all of the projector cords) who lived two blocks away walked all the way over from her home to speak to me like I was the sole spawn of Satan. “HOW DARE YOU? AN OLD WOMAN DOWN THE STREET COULD’VE HEARD THAT ALARM AND HAD A HEART ATTACK. SHAME ON YOU. YOU’RE A HORRIBLE CHILD.” In my mind, I didn’t think that she was actually speaking to me like that because what kind of person speaks to a child like that, especially a child that looks like this:
So my first and only reaction to it was to walk away from her while she was yelling at me. I just turned around and swished a basketball (not even kidding I actually just turned around and shot the basketball and swished it; very cool and baller of me at that moment). Today, I realize that I shouldn’t have ignored her, but also today I think that moment was iconic.
My dad showed up then to pick up my brother Sean from kid care because he was still a tiny little baby who couldn’t take public transportation home haha baby Sean sucker! But I told him what happened and the firefighter told him what happened and he reacted very reasonably. He said, “Okay, as long as you know not to do it again because they won’t come next time when it’s a real fire.” What is it with every adult choosing to risk our lives in a real fire to make a point?
The next morning when I got to my homeroom, that same teacher yelled at me in front of the whole class and told everyone to look at me and see what a bad kid was. As someone who pulled a fire alarm and then swished a basketball, I was as bad as they came. So, of course, I started crying in front of everybody and was banned from going to gym class that day. I was beginning to get a sense that this pulling of the fire alarm was a very bad thing and that I could basically go to jail for it, so I decided at that moment that I would completely change the story of what happened. I am no narc, so I didn’t blame my friend for actually maliciously pulling the alarm (most likely wasn’t baptized), but I did say that we were erasing the whiteboard and got carried away with the erasing and accidentally hit the fire alarm which caused it to go off. As I mentioned earlier, there is no way to accidentally make that alarm go off. But alas, that was not going to stop me from creating this very thought-out lie.
I told my parents this lie (for years), I told the principal and vice principal this lie, and I told myself this lie. I don’t know why I held onto it for so long since it did not prevent my two-day suspension. And it wasn’t my only lie of the event. The teacher who believed I was Satan incarnate and the principal told me that my dad had to come in for them to talk to him about my suspension, but he had to work. So they said my mom had to come in, so I told them that they needed to get her an interpreter. They said, and I quote, “No.” So I had to interpret. An incredible opportunity for me and my future as a CIA operative. To this day, my mom doesn’t remember this conversation, and it is most likely because the conversation was faked by me in the room. They told me to tell my mom that I was in big trouble for pulling the fire alarm and that I was going to get a two-day suspension. I told my mom instead that they wanted her to know that I was doing well in my classes and getting 100s on all of my spelling tests. My mom did not understand why she was brought in from work to be informed of this. Eventually, the principal realized I did not interpret properly and gave me an extra detention. Let this be a lesson in disability rights. I’ve been an activist since the day I was born and have never been afraid of the consequences. Next time, get my mom an interpreter because I will continue to risk our lives to make a point, just as my dad and the firefighters will.
To this day, that teacher hates me. But also to this day, that teacher has horrible breath. I tried to do the Chicagoland Catholic School Science Fair at the Museum of Science and Industry to get back on her good side — my science partner was the girl who originally pulled the fire alarm so that didn’t really help my case — and she told us that our projects shouldn’t have even made it to the museum fair. The other students from my class who did the science fair ordered a kit online that was already made, so that proved the point that this teacher would never forgive us since she didn’t even notice the receipt on theirs. Another example to further prove how much this teacher hates me: I went back to St. Viator at the end of high school with a few alums to tell our former teachers where we were going to college and what we wanted to be. One person said he wanted to be a pilot. Another person said she wanted to be a marine biologist. I said I wanted to be a comedy writer. I was the only one of the three of us who was told by her that I would never achieve this. Understandably so, since comedy writing is the most difficult job there is.
Since then, I have finally told my truth, and my parents both reacted like this:
“WE KNEW IT.”
And from that point on, I made sure it was the only thing my parents would ever know about me ever again. I haven’t spoken to either of them since May 2011. And if that’s not making a point, then I don’t know what is.
So, the moral of the story is: yes, it is worth it. I will always be able to say that I pulled a fire alarm, and you won’t. I sleep soundly every night knowing this. I will never need a Casper™ pillow. All I need is my fire alarm story, and I will rule the world. So remember that next time you vote for a Congressperson. Find out if they’ve ever pulled a fire alarm because if they have, they’ll probably do great work in your community.
Have a wonderful week, everybody. I hope we all learned a little something today. And thanks to my fans for holding me accountable about not sending this out last night, but I do recall telling everyone that Circle Back goes out every Sunday sometimes Monday, so I actually didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve never done anything wrong in my entire life.
movie rec: Air (2023) —yet another Ben Affleck Matt Damon movie that has a white savior but we ignore it because they’re so good at making movies
music rec: Multitudes by Feist
activity to do in this gorgeous weather rec: rollerblading
fire alarm to pull rec: the one at St. Viator Elementary School in the gym, preferably during kid care