Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Burn Baby Burn - Terrible Tuesdays with Travis

It is Tuesday once again so that means it is again time for a story of when things went bad for me. But first a brief message from our sponsor.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY !! To my lovely wife Jennifer. Of course she is off at another carnival meeting, one of her notorious volunteer activities, and afterwards her fellow suckers, I mean volunteers are taking her to a local martini bar so she will not read this until tomorrow at which point it will no longer be her birthday but still I wanted to say it publicly. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

For today's Terrible Tuesday episode I'm going to take you back in time to my mischievous youth. Sure I did lots of stuff for which I never got caught but those times do not stick out nearly as much as the ones in which I paid a price. Today is a two for one special, but the two tales do share a common theme.

As a youth I was a bit of a pyromaniac. And in truth, I still love to catch things and watch them burn still to this day. I'm not talking houses or buildings or anything that could get me into serious trouble, but I did build model cars just to later watch the plastic melt and curl under the advance of dancing flames. To this day if I go to a restaurant with candles on the table I end up catching sugar packets or something on fire.

So I was probably about twelve or thirteen when me and my buddies were in the alley behind Mark Roan's house. Jason I can't remember if you were there or not so chime in and let me know. Who knows what we were doing. Looking for toads and salamanders int eh water mains or gathering cans out of the trash can so we could ride our bikes to the edge of town and buy firecrackers? The only thing better than a fire, is a fire followed by an explosion.

Anyway, there we were in the alley. We found this almost full fifty pound sack of dog food which at some point had gotten wet and all the pieces had clumped together when it dried. Well I took one look at it and said, "Let's burn it." So a few of us dragged the sack out into the middle of the alley, where it was dirt and gravel and therefore would not catch anyone's fence or yard on fire. Mark or maybe Cootie ran to get some matches and if I recall right, a splash of gas. Hey, starting a fire without an good accelerant is like having sex without a woman. You can do it, but it ain't near as much fun.

So before you knew we had a right good size blaze going there in the middle of the alley. We gathered around the flames and stared down at the burning mass with the same expressions of awe we normally reserved for a newly discovered Playboy.

Now I'm only guessing how this next part went, since I was mesmerized by the fire and oblivious to my surroundings. But put yourself in the place of a city cop, just driving along a residential street when he happens to look down an alley and spots a fire. You turn down the alley and idle along. All the while a group of young boys have their backs to you. You pull up as close as you dare without tipping them to your presence. Then you hit the switch.. WOOH WOOH! When you hit the siren those boys jump a good three four feet in the air and then land facing you -- with looks of fear, bewilderment, and out right shock on their young faces. They're too dumbstruck to even run. It is the best laugh you've had all day and after a good long lecture you drive them home and turn them over to their angry parents.

Story Two

Basically the same group of boys are in my backyard maybe a year later. My Mom is at work. Earlier that morning me and my friends had collected a good many aluminum cans while doing a bit of dumpster diving. Afterwards we rode our bikes to the recycle center two miles away. Then rode a good three or four out the the closest firecracker stand.

We'd blown up a few model cars the legs off of several G.I. Joes, and now we'd moved on to the bottle rockets. After the fourth or fifth aerial shot I happened to look through the slats of my fence. I spotted the old black and white cruiser just as it came to a stop at the curb. Yelling COPS! I ran for the house. Behind me I hear Mark or Jason say," Oh bull, the cops aren't here."

I peek out the bathroom curtain and see Mark or Jason, I can't rember which climbing up the fence just as the bearded face of a cop appears. My friends damn near fell of the fence. Well I knew we were doomed so the storyteller in me kicked in and I went back outside yelling as I went. "Come on guys! Let's just stay in. Those guys throwing firecrackers at us will leave us alone if ..." I let my voice trail off as I acted surprised to see the officer.

He kept us there for twenty minutes or so questioning us as I concocted one hell of a story about this group of teenage boys who have been harassing us by throwing firecrackers at us while we try to jump on my trampoline. He asks me to describe the kids and since just a few days before I had had a run in with some older boys around the block I described them in exact detail, even told the nice policeman where one of them lived. He nodded and said he knew the kid and he would take care of it. That just might be my greatest story telling feat to this day.


Angie said...

and since just a few days before I had had a run in with some older boys around the block I described them in exact detail, even told the nice policeman where one of them lived

[giggling facepalm] Travis, you're awful!! :D


The Duck said...

And that last bit never came back to haunt you? I would never have had the balls to do something like that, you little pyro you.

angel, jr. said...

Happy birthday to your wife!! Now I'm going to go back and read the post--I just wanted to make sure I said happy birthday before I got distracted by other thoughts (A.D.D.)

angel, jr. said...

Hey, starting a fire without an good accelerant is like having sex without a woman. You can do it, but it ain't near as much fun.----Great quote!!

And did these older boys later coming looking for you?

Patti said...

my friend mark set fire to our city's dam...they made him watch a fire video and gave him a stren talking to.

he originally blamed a kid in our neighborhood. that kid hunted him down once everything was sorted out...yikes!

Holly Kennedy said...

LOL ... Cute post
You were a pyro, huh? What is it with guys and matches!??
I love the "thinking on your feet" storytelling we're often forced into when caught as you've described cause those stories usually become great material for novels.

Brooke said...

HA! When I was in college my roommate and I set our dorm room on fire which was technically an accident but when it was over my roommate laughed so hard she wet her pants.

If she had done that sooner and aimed a little better we might have avoided the fire altogether.

Brooke said...

Oh and happy birthday to your wife! My husband's birthday was on Monday, those wacky Libras.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like you were born for thriller fiction writing. I agree that things blowing up is pretty cool.

Tee said...

ROFL! "Let's burn it." --- I was a tomboy growing up and hung out with all males. It was a group of 5 boys and myself, usually. I heard that phrase often. I was always the mother hen who told them it could be dangerous or we'd get in trouble, or that it was just a stupid idea.

They never listened to me. LOL.

Ello said...

Happy birthday to your wife!

Great story - I would love to hear about your parents' reactions to all these various events!

WordVixen said...

Travis, I'm shocked! Or.. well... not.

Happy birthday Jenn!

Christen said...

Hahaha. This is great, lol. Hurray for us pyros!

Colleen said...

This must be why older guys barbeque. Great story.

Shauna said...

When I was in Junior High my dad taught my brothers and I how to make homemade gun powder and then pack it into firecrackers. One night, when my parents and I were away, my brothers decided to make the mother-of-all firecrackers. They set it off (we had a roll of fuse) in the backyard. Ten minutes later, the cops showed up at the door. Seems the neighbors thought someone was shooting a shotgun.

Hey, starting a fire without an good accelerant is like having sex without a woman. You can do it, but it ain't near as much fun.

My dad was always a purist when it came to fire. He felt that the only "real" way to start a fire was without any accelerants. You had to build the little "house" out of kindling, use a tiny piece of newspaper to light the fire and gently puff and coax the fire into catching while shielding the tiny flame from the stiff breeze. Tedious work.

That just might be my greatest story telling feat to this day.


Cicily Janus said...

Happy Birthday Jen.. Hope you had a great time with your friends.

And travis..as for the description of your friends...You should have known back then that you were going to be a writer.


You make me smile and laugh and snort milk out of my nose more than anyone else I know.


Phats said...

First Happy Birthday to your wife!

Second I enjoy these stories, have you ever seen the movie uhh firestarter?! Great Book, Great flick. I can't believe you did that haha.

LiSh said...

<--- pyro in training. Dad's been teaching me for years.

And what's with the comments about men and bbq's... no one takes over my bbq's or flames..

cher said...

what does burning dog chow smell like? i'm thinking roasted horse.

Jason said...

Yeah, I wasn't there for the first one, but I definitely remember the second one about the fireworks. We were always buying fireworks and blowing crap up. I think I enjoyed that more than burning stuff.

I remember you telling that cop about the 'other' kids that were running around terrorizing the neighborhood. If he really knew our neighborhood...we were the kids on the block.

Ahhh. Funny memory. Good one Travis.

And happy birthday to your wife!!

preTzel said...

Shame on you Travis! A pyro, you told lies, AND you shot off fireworks that could have done serious harm? I would have seriously grounded you were I your mother. (Oh wait, now I sound like *my* mother! Oh my goodness...back to blogger status!)

Travis, your writing draws your reader in and I love how you describe everything. The "like sex with a woman but ain't half as much fun" I can't say but it's a cute little analogy. ;)