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Kids Do the Darnedest Things
by Dave in Texas
Imagine you are a boy. A nine year old boy. You really love Bugs Bunny cartoons. Like this one with Yosemite Sam as a pirate.
And then you remember something.
You have ready access to gunpowder. Because your dad reloads his own shotgun shells. You know where it is. You know what it looks like. You remember because you watched him for hours and it occurs to you that it’s the only time you can remember him sitting at that workbench without smoking a cigarette.
I can’t believe the stuff I did when I was younger. This was one. I climbed up the shelving dad had built into the garage wall, two by fours and plywood, very sturdy stuff, anchored into the wall, and grabbed that can of blue dot. Then I swiped a book of matches out of the coffee can in the cabinet above the sink. Going back outside, I searched high and low for a quiet out of the way spot to try my little experiment, and decided that the driveway, right in front of the garage door was the perfect spot.
I opened the can and poured a little two foot long trail, and then made a pile about the size of two fists at the end of the trail. This was going to be so cool. I placed the can (sealed, for safety) a good safe distance away, call it two feet, and began striking the matches. I hadn’t started stealing cigarettes from my parents yet so I wasn’t any good at this yet, but I finally got one lit and managed to keep it lit by cupping my hand around it. In order to light the trail, I had to lean over and keep my hand around the match. And then I touched it to the gunpowder. Right as my dad pulled into the driveway from work.
I learned something interesting about gunpowder that afternoon. There is a slow burning variety, and a fast burning variety. As luck would have it, it turned out the fast burning variety is the kind you use in shotgun shells.
As soon as the flame touched the powder, the trail, and the pile all went up in one big FWOOOOP! I’ll bet it didn’t take a full second for the whole thing to go. There was a big flash, a huge ball of smoke in my face that billowed up over the house, and I stood there holding a match (what was left of it). My clothes were blackened, as was my face and arms. My eyebrows and about an inch of my crew cut were singed away. I looked like I had just arrived from Hell. I stood there blinking and sputtering and then I heard those words, the special words of power that when uttered in the correct sequence and tone informed you that you were in a world of shit.
“BOY?! WHAT IN THE (long e sound) HELL ARE YOU DOING”!?
I’ll tell you this. There was a last experience. One that taught me and left absolutely no doubt that my days of playing with gunpowder were over.
But this wasn’t it.