(February 2002) When I was 14 my fascination with fire led me to a summer afternoon exploration of the phenomenon. First I set fire to a wash of gasoline in my parents' driveway. This was so successful that I graduated to riding my bicycle through the flames in an emulation of Evil Knievel. The tires picked up the gasoline and flames, creating a daring visual effect. This impressed my two goofy friends so much that they egged me on towards my next death-defying stunt.
I thought I had thought the entire thing through. I had a pressurized garden hose ready for my "friends" to wield after the blazing stunt was performed. Safety precautions in place, I proceeded to douse my jeans in gasoline and ignite them.
As children we are taught to stop, drop, and roll if we are ever on fire. However in this case that time-honored technique merely resulted in a flaming lawn. I suddenly realized that when I stopped moving I became extremely uncomfortable. I jumped up and commenced what my hysterical friends described as an Irish Jig. Between their guffaws, they no longer had the capacity to bring the garden hose to my rescue.
Seeing that an end to my situation was not forthcoming, my mind went into overdrive. I ran for the aboveground pool in our backyard and jumped in. This action relieved my immediate problem; however, it created an even worse one. I found myself submerged under a sheet of flaming gasoline, which began to melt the pool liner. There was nothing to do but wait it out.
I didn't have long to wait, for the pool liner is an integral part of the stability of an aboveground pool. I found myself participating in the a sport previously unknown in Midwest, known elsewhere as "body surfing." The pool let loose, and I completely flooded the yards of my parents and my astonished friends.
I suffered only minor burns from the fire, but the parental flames were quite another story. The moral of the story:
Fire + Gasoline + Stupidity = $9000 repair bill.
(Darwin notes: I don't believe a word of this! Gasoline burns so hot that the boy would not have emerged with "minor burns" but the tale was too amusing to pass up.)
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