This weekend was the final straw. Being an extremely cost-conscious person, Dad decided that putting half a can of varnish in the toaster oven to liquefy it was the cheapest approach. You guessed it--the stuff caught fire! I found him in front of the flaming oven contemplating picking up the can with his bare hands. Two-foot flames were shooting out of it, causing me to utter a line spoken far too many times in our house: <I>"What in God's name were you thinking?"</I>
Father's attempts at Darwin Fame have included:
1) Tipping a small boat on Cayuga Lake while fishing, almost drowning my brother and himself. At the time, I thought Mom was being too hard on him when she said it was his own fault that he was in the hospital. I have since revised my judgment.
2) Removing a branch from a locust tree by climbing a ladder with a running chainsaw. The branch was not tied off properly, so it fell onto a shed roof that he was trying to avoid.
3) Rolling a lawn tractor on top of himself by mowing a roadside ditch at a steep angle, resulting in a broken rib--and poison ivy for me, because I spent ten minutes thrashing around in the vegetation while we tried to roll the tractor off Dad. Again.
4) Fourth but not last, lighting a fire in a basement trash burner that was not connected to an exhaust pipe. The fire department loves us.
5) Wandering off to watch the evening news after starting some water to boil in an aluminum dutch oven. Note that the Merck Index lists the melting point of aluminum as 660 degrees C. When Mom discovered the situation, the pot walls were glowing bright red, the bottom was melted out, and the kitchen wall was smoking.
6) Testing the efficacy of old Nitroglycerin tablets by swallowing three at once to see if they still worked. I did say he was cheap, er, cost conscious. The EMS came to the rescue because his blood pressure had dropped to an undesirable level and he was passed out at the kitchen table. Mere minutes before, he was planning a drive to the donut shop. Thank God he didn't make it to the car before his blood pressure dropped!
He may not yet have used up nine lives, but my father, the PhD, appears to have a running start on Darwin infamy.