Despite a pathological attachment to things that explode, I have placed a one-month moratorium on blowing [stuff] up.
I can’t stop other people from doing it, but I will not set flame to anything with the potential of starting a wildfire. The state is so dry that a flatulent mouse could accidentally burn us all to death.
There’s also the fact that my friend and neighbor, Draper City Fire Marshal Bryan R. Thatcher, died last week. So, in honor of him and everyone else who ever put themselves in danger because of someone else’s incaution, I’m on hold.
I wasn’t always this judicious when it came to fireworks. As a kid, I set innumerable things on fire both accidentally and on purpose. Once, the Old Man had to keep a furious fire captain from strangling me.
This was followed by a paternal flogging of my hams so enthusiastically delivered that the administrator actually broke a sweat and had to sit down for a minute before resuming.
When it comes to explosives, there is very little difference between men and boys. I can’t speak for women on this matter, but I can say the IQ level of the male gender becomes a moot point when it comes to stuff that goes boom.
In 1963, Leon Krygowski and I stole a scary-looking firecracker from his father’s construction work truck and borrowed a huge pumpkin from a nearby field.
We didn’t know how powerful Mr. Krygowski’s firecracker was. Only that it was impressively bigger than the Black Cats we normally got grounded for using. The neighbor’s pumpkin was the size of a log cabin and just as durable.
A collection of smaller kids watched the experts from a distance. We balanced the pumpkin on a fencepost and inserted the firecracker into a carved hole. Lighting the fuse, we backed off a few feet and waited for the desultory pop.
The pumpkin disappeared in an enormous burst of light and noise.
I didn’t learn about the size of the explosion until much later. At the time, I only knew that my face had somehow gotten in the way of a slab of pumpkin on its way to Japan.
Ears ringing, Leon and I sat up covered in pumpkin juice, seeds and orange string. He had two loose teeth, and my glasses were broken. Our audience was gone, and the fire department was advertising its imminent arrival.
That little trick cost me a two-week confinement to the house. Not so much because I almost got killed, but mainly because of the theft. The Old Man was a cop. He didn’t expect that I would survive my teenage years, but he wasn’t going to tolerate any degree of theft.
My sense of survival hasn’t improved much over more than half a century. I’m still a guy. Hell, a large part of me is still only a 10-year-old kid. It’s the same with every male.
Put Sonny and me together with some fuse, gunpowder and lack of proper oversight, and our combined IQ is about what you’d find in a really small grape. You think that volcano in Hawaii started itself?
But not this July — and maybe not even for the rest of the summer. I have too much respect for the men and women who end up risking their lives because some of us aren’t smart enough to think any further ahead than boom.