I caused a ghastly mess this morning in my friend’s condo. All in an attempt to heat water for coffee. I’ve never been very practical or handy-minded, and sometimes I do incredibly boneheaded things. But that’s me. I’m the kind of guy who calls AAA to have a tire changed. Partly because I don’t trust my abilities (I so hate changing tires that I instantly reject the idea) and partly because I don’t want to get my hands greasy. My hands must be clean at all times. Kind of a Howard Hughes-type deal.

In any event I woke up in the usual unfocused state but relatively clear of mind. I wanted some coffee. I saw a silver heating pot sitting on a pad of some kind, but I didn’t think to notice (because I’m an alien from Tralfamadore) that the pot had a plastic connector heating device on the bottom. I have an electric water-heating pot at home so I know about filling it up and then pushing a button to start the process, but in the fog of the moment I just figured “okay, no button on the pot so I’ll just fill it and heat the water on the stove.” So like a donkey I put the pot on the stove for coffee, turned the heat up halfway and took a shower.

Four minutes later (my showers never last longer than that) the place was filled with smoke, and then the fire alarm went off. The plastic on the bottom of the pot had melted onto the stove. A torrent of smoke. Melted plastic on the stove and linoleum counter, on two green bath towels, on the kitchen rug and the wooden floor — the kind of thing only a flake whose thoughts are elsewhere much of the time could manage.

I’ve done a little cleaning this morning and things look a lot better, but I have to replace the whole Cuisinart electric coffee pot and heating pad, the two green towels, possibly the kitchen throw rug plus consult with professional cleaners about removing the melted plastic from the various surfaces in the right way. You have to be careful with linoleum and stovetops and wooden floors. You can’t leave scratches or scrub marks.

This is why my first screening of the Toronto Film Festival will be Paul Verhoeven‘s Elle, which starts at 12:30. It’s 11:25 am — I should be able to make it.