Friday, February 13, 2009

The BoxerBrief Arson Squad

Ask someone what they think is man’s greatest, most groundbreaking, important invention and you tend to get run of the mill answers like "the wheel", "domesticated animals", "flight", "space travel", "irrigation systems," "the cotton gin", "electricity", "the peanut", and, occasionally, “the spork.” I tend to agree with the latter – why bother with a spoon and a fork, when you can have both in one hand? But lets face it - Carver didn't invent the peanut - he just figured out what to do with it, ok?

Continue asking for awhile and often someone will come across your bows with “fire!” Not bad, I think, despite the obvious truth that man didn’t actually CREATE fire, it’s still a good point – where would we be without it? Pick a product and work it backwards in your mind to its raw materials, then think about the process required to create it and, ultimately, fire is most likely going to play a part in there somewhere; except in beef jerky (man’s other most important invention) - no need for fire there – just the sun. Oops, wait – the sun is made of fire! Got myself stuck in a thought loop there for a second.

Hate it or love it, raw, hot, fire is a part of your life. Open up your heater tonight - what do you see?


What makes your car run? Gasoline? Nope. Not exactly. Fire.

I don’t know about you – but I’ve had a long and fruitful relationship with open flame. Campfires, fireplace fires, bonfire, lighters, fireworks, firearms - it’s a pyromaniac’s world out there and I bleed kerosene. Men are firebugs - it’s like a natural law. I think that’s why we like to have bonfires in the firepit at the Duderanch: they’re cheerful, tend to spur on great conversation, and they keep you warm. Plus, who doesn’t love burning aluminum cans? I know I do.

In fact, we had a great fire here on Thursday night. We told manly stories, had a few drinks, then called it a night. I put the grate over the pit about 11pm to avoid errant sparks and went to bed; smoke-cured and satisfied. This afternoon when I returned home from my last round of interviews I dumped the ashes and headed in the house to change. Ragone was loitering around on the couch and Austin was enjoying a light afternoon nap in his boxers.

I changed out of my suit and hung around my room for awhile in my boxers, then wandered in the den to check on Ragone. I felt a bit thirsty so I bypassed the couch and went straight to the fridge.

When I walked past the kitchen window I couldn’t help but notice that my entire backyard was engulfed in 10-foot-high orange flames.

Naturally my first instinct was to scream like a woman, which I did. This brought Ragone into the kitchen at a clip. He want straight past me through the screen door and began hopping up and down in the back yard spewing forth an ingenious litany of profanity so profound as to defy description. I swear to you the fire receded a bit in the face of his apopleptic fury.

I joined him for a second, then dove back in the house, woke up Austin with “GET UP THE YARD IS ON FIRE CALL 911” then dove under the kitchen sink for the fire extinguisher.

I couldn't figure out how to get the retaining pin out, so of course – I had to read the instructions. Bear in mind – we have a vintage 1993-yellowstone forest fire absolutely blazing in my backyard at this point and I’m hopping up and down in terror attempting to read fine-print.

I managed to figure it out, pulled the pin, ran out into the fire, and started spraying. Ragone went for the hose. Naturally, it was tied in a double bow, kinked in 14 places, and in the front yard – not the back.

We managed to get it working, but the fire was too hot – so Ragone and Austin started cutting a fire brake around the edges of the rapidly-spreading flames which, by this point, were headed directly for my house – on purpose, I’m sure.

I was engulfed in thick smoke trying to soak down the hottest parts, but over the crackling roar of the flames I clearly heard Ragone shout “f&ckity, f*ck, f@ck, d*mn, f*ck, sh%t, holy sh*t, its hot, oh its so d&mn hot, oh F*ck me, f@ck, d*mn that hose, d*mn you stupid f*cking, f%ckhead hose, horse’s @ss, son-of-a-b*tch leaves, Austin you f*cker give me that f*cking, d*mn rake!!!!!” Which, I have to admit was exactly what I was thinking. Then, mercifully, the first fireman showed up. Then another. After that a lady fireman ran up, looked at me condescendingly, and said into her radio “better bring up the big hose. Randy.”

Randy, who appeared to be about 17 and was apparently in training, trudged up with a gigantic fire hose and immediately began blasting water all over creation. It was at this point that I realized: I’m in my underwear and black dress socks, and my right sock is completely burned off except for the part around my ankle.

That might not sound too bad to you, initially, but let's back up for a second so I can impress upon you the gravity of this situation. Rewind, if you will to approximately 8:00AM this morning. I got up, took a shower and slid on my favorite pair of boxers. I then marched out of my room into the kitchen for a glass of water. Austin met me in the hallway and said "Hey man. nice boxers." I returned a congenial "Thanks! They're my lucky boxers!" - glad that he recognized how special those particular boxers were. He just grinned. Walking back from the kitchen I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror and realized: the crotch of my lucky boxers is entirely gone. I'm wearing a swiss-cheese boxer skirt with holes in all the wrong places. I do not know how this happened, but it wasn't intentional.

My first thought was "let me change my boxers and throw these away. What if I find myself in a situation where someone might see my boxers?!" My second thought was "Nah. Who is going to see these boxers? These things are even MORE comfortable now - I'm going with it."

Perhaps now you understand.

I don’t know what it is about my life, but anytime something really out of the ordinary happens I always end up standing around in the yard in my underwear surrounded by strangers.

By the time it was all over – we were standing around in the mudhole that was my backyard with 9 firemen, one fire chief, two policemen, a paramedic, and two neighbors – all looking at me for an explanation.

I didn’t know what else to do, so: I offered them refreshments. They declined.

The fire itself was pretty memorable, in fact it may have been the single greatest happening of 2009 on River Springs court to-date; but the thing I remember most clearly was Austin K. Lee, who adjusted his white v-neck, leaned over to me and whispered “you know Jimmy, we have way too many stories that start with us all sitting around the house half-naked.”

Viva La Duderanch

1 comment:

Maggie said... absolutely priceless.....nice vivid description, too. I felt like I was there.