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Everything I needed to know about explosives I learned in Kindergarten
by Dave in Texas
There is a peculiar dynamic among young pre-adolescent boys. I don’t really know the technical term for it, but I always called it “the dumb ass cannot remember anything”.
That summer, summer of 1969, the summer that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon (go ahead, I dare you. Tell Buzz it was bullshit).
Watch his right jab.
Anyway, that summer my dad told us all we were moving to Texas in a couple of months. And I was not terribly happy about it, like most 9 year old boys all I could wrap my brain around was that I would miss all my friends. Guys I ran around with, and in 1969 you ran around unsupervised and unmonitored all the time.
I was running around with my best friend Russell one day, explaining that we were moving and it sucked, cause I wouldn’t have any friends to goof around with. I told him about my first experience with gunpowder and how dad had told me to leave that shit alone. But of course being boys we moved off of the discipline topic and deep into the science. And when I was explaining to my friend Russell how I had miscalculated the effect of Blue Dot gunpowder, he started explaining to me how it had to be packed and contained so that the fast burn generated an explosion.
Russell knew what he was talking about. And we made plans. Oh yes we did.
A Coca Cola can. You remember, the kind that had the pull tabs you yanked off and threw in the lake to lacerate someone’s foot with?
Yeah. That kind. Half filled with gunpowder, crumpled wax paper for wadding (if you never had your sandwich wrapped with this stuff you probably don’t know what I’m talking about).
And we made a fuse. I learned my lesson about the matches. We made a fuse from a bunch of fuses actually, about 40 firecracker fuses knotted together. Shoved into the bottom of the can. Ready for action.
Now all we needed was something to blow up. Having the attention span of 9 year old boys, we selected the first Target of Opportunity. The cinderblock underneath the corner of Russell’s back porch. It was perfect. It was can-sized (we convinced ourselves, oh you should have heard us talking ourselves into this), it was concrete (not really but we were stupid), so it would contain the blast and shield us from harm, and it was right there!
Russell put it in position. I lit the fuse.
And we ran over to the dirt pile about 15 feet away, apparently dad was landscaping or something, anyway, pile of dirt. Good cover.
And the goddam thing exploded. Blew up. It actually worked.
My dad told me some years later that Russell’s dad told him he found a few pieces of cinderblock in the dirt, when he was shoveling it into a wheelbarrow and doing whatever landscaping thing he was doing.
So what happened? The cinderblock exploded, and the porch fell down.
We had blown up a porch.
I think the noise and the damage had taken over that part of a boy’s brain, the part that says “uhm.. we might be in trouble now”.
To my surprise, that is exactly what Russell said to me. Except he left himself out. “You are in trouble now boy”.
His dad came out, looking at the smoke, the porch, the two of us standing there like total dumb asses… deer in the headlights. There was no way we were getting out of this. We confessed immediately, tears running down our cheeks.
Somehow we thought that might gain us leniency. We were wrong.
I mentioned last week this was the only time somebody else’s dad administered a butt spanking to me (not counting coaches and high school). He was very deliberate about it, not yelling, not visibly angry or scary, but quite thorough.
I thought this would be my “get out of jail free” card when I got home and faced my dad.
I was wrong about that too.