It was a cold, clear Christmas day, and only one gift remained unopened: a large present under the tree addressed to the entire family from Santa. My younger brothers and I were granted the honor of opening it, and we proceeded to rip the wrapping paper asunder. It was a box full of fireworks! Bottle rockets, firecrackers, screamers, flowers, snakes, smoke bombs, and M60s, which resemble miniature sticks of dynamite
After securing our presents in our rooms, we threw on our new winter coats, grabbed the box of fireworks, and scouted out a location from which to deploy them. We chose the top of a hill overlooking the lake in our backyard, towards which we would launch the fireworks.
To be safe, we decided to leave the box of fireworks in the garage, twenty feet from our staging ground. But after several trips back and forth, I decided to carry the fireworks more efficiently. I grabbed some M60s, a string of firecrackers, and a few packages of bottle rockets, and stuffed them into the inside breast pocket of my new coat until it was close to bursting.
We were using punks to light the fuses. Punks resemble sticks of incense. They burn without a flame, leaving only a smoldering tip. I was happily engaged in lighting fireworks, when I inadvertently reached into my inside pocket for more, [i]with the hand holding the punk.[/i] I did not realize my mistake until I felt a sharp burn and a powerful WHUMP against my chest. At first, I thought one of my brothers had fired a bottle rocket at me, but no one was looking my way. I suddenly realized that the bottle rocket had gone off in my inside breast pocket!
I grabbed the front collar of my coat, and pulled it out so I could look down to see what was happening. Sparks flew up and hit my face. At that moment, the long string of firecrackers ignited. POP! POP POP POP! I tried to unzip my coat, it but it was stuck, and would not unzip no matter how hard I pulled. My smoldering coat was being ripped to shreds, and holes were burning through the sweatshirt beneath it.
I realized that there was only way to remove the coat. I whipped it over my head, and had barely extricated my arms from the sleeves and hurled it away, when the first M60 blew. I dove to the cold ground, which felt soothing against my burned chest. The M60 ripped a huge hole in the coat, which started to burn, and the burning coat set off the rest of the M60s, blowing the coat into tatters of flaming cloth.
The burns on my chest were not severe. My mother, a nurse, was able to dress them herself, so I didn't have to go to the emergency room. My parents were too bemused to punish me, except for insisting that I buy myself a new coat with my Christmas money.
If the M60s had gone off while I was wearing the coat, or during my struggle to get it off, I would have been a serious contender for a Darwin Award. But since I survived, instead let my story serve as an amusing warning to others!
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