Trial by Fire

Me and my pal, Doug, used to light small fires behind the shed in my backyard.

Sometimes it was just sticks and twigs, but now and then we’d douse a model airplane or car in Testors glue and ignite the whole mess. Then — and a psychiatrist would have a field day with this — we’d extinguish the fires by urinating on them.

So anyway, one day we were on our way to the backyard and made a terrible mistake. Walking along the side of the house, we were lighting matches and tossing them on the ground ahead of us as we made our way to the burn site. We were in exactly the right spot for Doug’s mother to see us from the kitchen window. Uh-oh.

Doug’s mom could have just handled things discreetly, taking us aside to explain that what we were doing was wrong and sit us down and give us a glass of milk and warm cookies.

But no, Doug’s mom was not the TV mom type, instead, she was more of the run out of the house screaming type. She charged across the street and grabbed us by the collars, depositing me with my father before dragging Doug back home to face his reckoning.

My father sprung into action immediately, Pushing me through the house and down into the basement. The basement! Holy, crap! Why are we going to the basement?!

He yanked me into the room where the furnace sat, and threw open the access door. He pulled me to the floor and help my hand close to the hot blue flames.

“You want to fool around with fire? If I ever catch you playing with fire again, you’re gonna get burned.”

I’m not sure that was the approach I would have used, but I’ll tell you this: it certainly worked. We were done lighting stuff on fire. We were not done blowing things up with firecrackers — nobody seemed to have a problem with that — but burning things? Never again.

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