Saturday, November 16, 2013

We were not cut out for Forestry Work

Tonight, as I was cooking dinner, I nearly burned the house down. And by "nearly" I mean "kinda lit a hot pad on fire but actually it was only smoldering and on second thought let me tell you a story."

Once upon a time, in the 1990s, my friend The Jerk and I were hanging out at her house with our little group of friends. Her mom wasn't home, so it as just the four of us; Jerk, myself, Bradley and Gomez.

We were in high school, so of course we thought we knew EVERYTHING. I'm pretty sure, if I remember correctly, we were sitting around discussing nuclear theory (or calling each other names. Same thing) and watching the snow fall.

And then the power went out.

No biggie. We grew up in the mountains. Winter power outages were routine and we knew how to handle ourselves.

Or so I thought.

Jerk (whose name I will now change to Wessa, since referring to her as Jerk is kind of, well, a jerk thing to do) went to go get lighting supplies while the rest of us sat in the dark.

Wessa had grown up in our tiny mountain town. I'd only lived there for a few years, and the other two yahoo's were recent transplants within the last year or so but when you live in a mountain hick town with not-a-thing-to-do, you learn things you probably shouldn't do, but do anyway. We totally knew what we were doing.

Wessa returned with the kerosene lamps and a box of matches.

"Hey," I said. "I think those lamps need to be filled."

You may recall that I said we'd been sitting in the dark. By now you realize I once had super-human eyesight and could see across the room in the dead of night during a blizzard. Don't tell anyone.

Bradley went to the garage to get the kerosene can.

Gomez approached the counter. "Are you going to fill those yourself?" he asked.

"Yup," I said. "It's easy. Wanna try?"


"Suit yourself."

Bradley returned with the fuel can and set it on the counter.

Wessa had already lit one lamp, since it had enough fuel to burn for a bit, which was good. Who wants to pour kerosene in the dark?

The four of us sat yammering on about God knows what as I took the wick or whatever off the lamp and set it on the table.

The rest happened in real-time, but I swear the whole world slowed down seven frames per minute as I watched Wessa's actions unfold before us.

She picked up the fuel can.

To take outside, I thought to myself.

She picked up the lit lamp.

I say again. The Lit. Lamp.


Also going outside, I thought to myself. Right? So she can see while she fills the UN-LIT lamp??"

She held the two together and tilted the can to the side as I started screaming NOOOO!!

Fire erupted from her hands like she'd morphed into a freaking demon magician.

I'm not even sure what happened or in what order after that because I have PTSD from that night, but I remember Wessa flinging the lit and flaming kerosene lamp into the sink, were the fire immediately spread to the curtains and up the wall.

Bradley grabbed his flannel jacket (it was the 90s, remember?) and started beating flames with it. I have no idea what I was doing, and Wessa ran for the phone to dial 911.

I'm not even completely sure Gomez was actually there that night, because after my earlier mention of him, I have no further recollection of him whatsoever (no, he didn't die, because I saw him at graduation later that year).

The end result: Wessa's mom got a brand-new kitchen, carpet and paint throughout the house, Bradley wasn't allowed over anymore (per his parents request) and Wessa and I were never again left without supervision as long as we lived.

Every time something catches on fire (like the time Elle almost burned us to death in mortar fire), I smile to myself and think of that night where my bestie almost killed us all in a house fire.



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