I’d like to start this post by stating unequivocally that I am not an arsonist. These stories can simply be placed into the “Ryan Likes to do Dumb Things File.” Ever since I was younger I loved fire. I used to set things on fire in the metal trashcan that was in my room when I was a teenager. Mostly the things I set on fire were just pieces of paper. I am not sure what fascinated me about fire, whether it was the smell of the smoke that I enjoyed, or the flickering of the flames as they licked their way up the sides of the garbage can.
Having a bonfire was something that I especially enjoyed as a kid. I think I must have taken several years off of my life by throwing things into the fire that would emit toxic fumes, such as styrofoam. I enjoyed seeing the way various things would burn. Plastic melts very fast, as I have seen time and time again.
For instance, there was a time a few years ago when I loaded up a rotted out tree stump and took it out to my mother’s house. She lived in the country at the time, so it was a good place to dispose of the stump. Figuring that a good fire needed a little gas to really get going, I made sure to take along my little, plastic gas can that we use for our mower.
Once out at my mom’s house, I unloaded the tree stump and set it on the gravel in the driveway. With everything neatly arranged I dumped some gasoline on the stump and got out my lighter. This was quickly followed by a WHOOSH and a BOOM!!! I not only had started the stump on fire but the the plastic gas can had exploded mere inches from me. I then took a stick to try and get the remnants of the can out of the fire, however, the only thing that I managed to do was to fling a molten piece of plastic onto my elbow. I still have a faint scar from that brush with flames.
One person who shared my fascination with fire was my best friend in high school, Charlie. One afternoon shortly after getting out of school we headed to Charlie’s house. Leaving us unsupervised was usually not a good idea. Well, this particular afternoon we had some gas and a lighter and were out in his backyard. Charlie then proceeded to pour rings of gas around me and set them on fire. It was like I was a circus animal jumping through rings of fire, except I was actually jumping over them. That continued for a while before we set some leaves and grass clippings on fire in the backyard. I can remember the flames reaching so high into the air that you could see them over the roof of the house from the front yard. As you can imagine Charlie’s dad was not happy when he saw rings burned into his backyard. I am sure the shenanigans that Charlie and I pulled while were in high school, took some years off of his dad’s life. There are many stories to tell when it comes to Charlie and I. However, I will save those for another time.
I can say that some of these experiences have taught me how fragile life can be. I’m lucky that I was never seriously hurt doing some of the things I did as a kid. Likewise, it is a good thing that no one else was ever hurt. I don’t play with fire anymore, but I still love a good bonfire. These days I just stick to marshmallows and hotdogs as my favorite things to place into the fire.