Sunday, July 19, 2009

Burning Down The House… OK, Just The Garage.

When I was in middle school my friend Trevor and I enjoyed filming videos. We would often take his parents’ video camera and film fake talk shows or random scenes inspired by whichever movie we had recently watched on HBO, all of which usually ended with one of us getting hurt or pissed off before the production was complete. For example, we once filmed a talk show where the backdrop fell on Trevor and since he was so skinny and weak he could not get it off of himself. So there are five minutes of film somewhere with Trevor stuck under a corkboard yelling about how he is going to kill me if I don’t help him and me laughing so hard that I can’t move.

One summer day me, Trevor, and another friend of ours decided to film ourselves doing stunts. It was around the time the MTV show Jackass came out, so performing and filming idiotic stunts was the thing to do. It is also worth noting that we were teenage boys, so we greatly enjoyed playing with fire. We decided to film small “stunts” in Trevor’s backyard that involved lighting things on fire. The first few were using Trevor’s jungle gym. One involved setting the monkey bars ablaze and Trevor climbing across them. Another involved me pouring lighter fluid on a Styrofoam bike helmet and setting it on fire as I wore it to go down the slide (pretty bad ass, I know).

Eventually we decided that the lighter fluid we were using was not creating a strong enough effect for us. Trevor realized that there was a can of gasoline in his garage, which would certainly create a much stronger flame than the pussy lighter fluid we had previously been using. We figured that would look way cooler on camera and being the pyrotechnical experts that we were, we decided this was the only logical progression. Yes, what can possibly go wrong there?

We moved the production into Trevor’s garage, quickly located the gasoline and cleared a space on the garage floor. We started off by pouring a little bit of gas on the ground and lighting it and then snuffing out the fire by throwing a large wooden board on top of the flames. This worked out fine. We then advanced to making small rings of fire and filming each other light it and once again snuffing them out by throwing the wooden board on the somewhat controlled flame. We took turns between making a design with the gasoline on the garage floor and lighting it, and filming and snuffing the fire out with the board. Things were going surprisingly well.

It was finally our other friend’s turn to make a design with the gasoline and light it. He took the canister and poured an abnormal amount of gas on the ground. Like if he were a bar tender, the gas was Vodka, and the garage floor was a martini glass, there would be no room for the olive and that olive-less martini would have fucked you up. Trevor and I both looked at each other knowing that there was way too much gas on the ground. But, at the same time we were kind of curious as to what was going to happen. Plus, we were filming this and if things somehow managed to go well this superb pyrotechnical effect might go down in history and could even be our big break.. or at the very least, it would be a cool video to show to our friends and brag about. So, our friend lit the gas on the garage floor and a huge flame came shooting up at us.. crap! We later watched this event on video and all you see is a huge flame come shooting up and then the camera drop and shutoff (so after all that we barley even captured it on film). Trevor attempted to throw the board on the fire to smother it, but this time it only helped kindle the flames (like wood does), so instead, we ran out of the garage in a panic.

As soon as we got out of the garage Trevor’s sisters noticed the blaze and came running outside. Trevor’s grandma who was staying with them for the week soon followed carrying a small cup of water to throw on the flames (at least she tried). Then Trevor’s dad noticed the commotion and came running outside screaming like a 12-year-old girl who just saw a mouse.. at a Britney Spears concert, “Trevor, Trevor!!” Trevor’s dad is a big black guy. He looks a little bit like Hootie from Hootie and the Blowfish, but much more intimidating (at least I thought so when I was younger). When a big black guy gets so worked up that he sounds like a prepubescent girl, you know something is wrong.

We all worked tirelessly to subdue the flames. Everyone was in a panic. At first nothing was working. The water we were throwing on the fire wasn’t doing much. We tried to use the fire extinguisher, but it was empty from its prior use as a movie prop and from putting out the grease fire that Trevor had started in the kitchen just a week before (He tried to make French fries on the stove, but set the kitchen cabinets on fire instead).

We ended up throwing baking powder on the flames and borrowing a fire extinguisher from one of the neighbors. We were able to get the garage fire down to a small campfire-like blaze by the time the fire department got there. Once the fire department arrived our other friend and I ran off. Basically we left Trevor to suffer the consequences on his own (what good guys). After an hour I made my way back to Trevor’s house, partly because I felt bad, but mostly because Trevor's parents had already called my mom and told her what happened. I got back to his house and Trevor’s dad yelled at us for about 20 minutes before my mom drove me home where she and my dad yelled at me some more. A few days later the fire department called my mom and asked if she wanted to send me to juvey, or put me in some crazy kid program. Thank god she declined. THANKS MOM!!

1 comment:

  1. Love the martini metaphor. What a great plan to put out a fire with wood.