Ah, high school chemistry class, where most students first encounter (nowadays) science that might hurt, maim, or kill you. Those with parents in industrial chemistry might have already come to understand the in-jokes and winces, but for most, this is the first time they get to play with fire, things that produce toxic fumes, or go “boom!”
So, there I was in Chemistry I lab, doing the assignment with Pyro Partner, Notebook Dude (keeper of the official tome), and Invisi-partner. Invisi-partner was there in spirit because he was out sick for almost six weeks. We helped him keep up with events, but this was before telecommuting (late 1980s).
We had finished our work, and our numbers agreed, as did the results of the experiment. Notebook Dude was recording our results for the official write-up. I had finished cleaning the lab table, and Pyro Partner was washing the now-empty glassware. The Bunsen burner was still on, because we had one last thing to do, and that thing was bubbling away for three more minutes. When the timer went off, we’d do some things to it and finish the experiment.
The timer sounded. I turned my back to the table and waved to catch Mrs. Reagent’s eye so she could come supervise. She looked my direction. Her eyes went wide, and she covered the width of the classroom in 0.05 seconds. I’m not sure her feet touched the carpet. At the same time, I smelled something icky. She grabbed my shoulder and began pounding the back of my neck, shoulders, and head.
What had I done? I was too surprised to protest, as you can imagine. Plus she was bigger than me. “Put that down!” she barked as she pounded.
“OK, Mrs. Reagent,” says Pyro partner. She set the Bunsen burner back down on the lab table.
Any guesses as to what happened?
Yup. Pyro partner, seeing my very long pony-tail, and the open flame, couldn’t resist finding out what would happen when flame met hair. I lost about an inch of hair, and was persuaded not to throttle Pyro. It happened so fast that Notebook Dude looked up, saw the flames, and before he could protest, Mrs. Reagent had leapt into action.
Pyro failed the lab and got a detention, I got a haircut, and Notebook Dude and I got a B+ on the lab (we forgot to record a step, although we did have the results listed.)