Thursday, March 1, 2012

Firebug




     What is it about men and fire?  Is there an instinctive need for heat rooted deep inside their troglodyte souls?  When I was a little girl, I feared that my house would burn down because my brother's favorite hobby at the time was lighting matches and flicking them behind the headboard of his bed.
     During my teen years, my best gal pal and I were often badgered by a nutty gas station attendant with a deranged grin who gleefully referred to himself as a firebug.  "Really, dude? Why don't you pitch a tent on Mercury and enjoy your summer there?"
     I guess it should be no surprise that years later I find myself with not one but two firebugs in my house.  My son discovered at an early age the thrill of melting a plastic, toy soldier over a hot stove and was notorious for sticking sharp objects into electrical outlets just to see the sparks fly!
     My husband never displayed any firebug tendencies----he preferred getting his illumination outdoors with an LED flashlight.  But all that changed three years ago during an unusually long "cold spell" in Florida (we hit a whopping 60 degrees...brrr....).  My neighbor convinced us that an outdoor fire pit would be the perfect entertainment feature for our backyard garden.  We agreed, and within the course of a weekend, the masterpiece fire pit was built.  Just the sight of it brought warm, fuzzy visions of friends and neighbors gathering around the fire to roast marshmallows and sip hot coffee laced with brandy.
     Once the fire pit was completed, my husband looked for any excuse to build a fire ( "Honey, it's Bastille Day in France, time to celebrate with a fire"..."Honey, the dog didn't throw up his dinner, let's celebrate with a fire!" ).  He became obsessed with daily weather reports and checked the outdoor thermometer every ten minutes to see if the mercury level dipped lower than 70 degrees.  Perhaps that explains all the puddles beneath the thermometer and the sudden disappearance of ice cubes from our refrigerator.
     Those first few months by our fire pit  were everything I had hoped for, but winter soon gave way to spring, and by June I reminded my husband that it was time to dismantle the fire pit and replace the area with bright flowers.  He solemnly agreed, and off he went to the nearby garden shop for a fresh batch of spring flowers.  An hour later he returned home with only one item---an industrial size, ugly brown misting fan that rotated and spit water while you roasted in hell.
     Unwilling to give up his new found obsession with fire, my husband insisted we gather around the flames every weekend to share stories and roast marshmallows until they resembled lumps of coal on a stick.  He dubbed these evenings "Funday Sundays, and plied his guests with plenty of beer and wine so that they'd sweat and learn to enjoy the heat as much as he did.
     The smell of smoke brought the neighbors to our backyard just as my husband had hoped, but they were only there to make sure that our house had not burned down in the July heat.  What he doesn't know is that I had secretly waved our bedroom blanket over the flames to send up a smoke signal for help.
     You think hot flashes are bad?  Try having one while you're sitting by a towering wall of fire in August.  They are known as double hot flashes, and they are not nearly as much fun as a double hot fudge sundae.  These are truly the hot flashes from hell that leave you feeling like that marshmallow on a stick that's about to be squished between two graham crackers.  Even with the misting fan blowing at the highest speed, our friends sat perspiring in a circle like people meditating in a sweat lodge.  I had hoped that one of the benefits from all the sweating would be the loss of some excess weight, but licking all the melted marshmallows off the sticks counteracted any chance of weight loss.
     The problem with fires in Florida during the summer months means that there is no firewood available, so you have to get creative.  My husband would burn anything to keep the fire going---twigs, pine cones, a roll of toilet paper, his credit card statements...and once out of desperation he raided a box of feminine products from under my daughter's sink.  Pretty soon my neighbors were scratching their heads in bewilderment because they couldn't figure out what happened to all their lovely shade trees.
     Whenever firewood is sparse, my husband calls our nephew, R.J. (a.k.a. Mountain Man), who could easily beat the competition on Survivor.  R.J. has the uncanny ability to find wood anywhere---he sniffs it out like a bloodhound.  I swear this guy carries an ax in one pocket ( and a beer in the other ) because he learned at an early age to always BE PREPARED.  Both he and my husband become a little giddy after the holidays are over because of the abundance of discarded Christmas trees just waiting to be burned.
     It isn't just the amount of fires my husband is burning that bothers me as much as the size and intensity of the flame.  My tallest trees now have singed tops and there's ash all over the patios.  NASA called because they wondered what that white spot was on the map of Florida.
     There's something soothing and intimate about sitting in the darkness with the crackle and pop of a fire. It brings out the best  (and sometimes worst) in people.  They huddle close and confess their worst secrets ("Hey Bro, remember that expensive mountain bike you thought was stolen in 1995?  I accidentally crushed it with my station wagon one night after too many beers and buried it in a dumpster...but we're still friends, right?"). Some people get a little too amorous by the fire and need to either go back to their own bedroom or go to a hotel.  They also burp and fart and toss their beer bottles into the pit.  Give my husband a few glasses of wine by the fire and the next  thing you know  he'll revert to his roots and start doing ceremonial dances around the flames to the tune of Beyonce's "All The Single Ladies."  I don't think he learned those moves in the Cub Scouts.
     We do have some new rules about fire pit etiquette:
     #1.  There will be no consumption of beans one hour before sitting around the fire.  If you've seen the movie, "Blazing Saddles", then you know why this rule must be strictly enforced.
     #2.  You may not burn foreign objects in the fire, such as last night's leftover "Fiesta Surprise" casserole,  all those receipts from Donut World, Chocolate World and Wine Around The World, the baby's dirty diapers after a bout of dysentery, or the kitchen garbage that you were too lazy to drag out to the curb. Large pieces of cardboard should be outlawed as well because they lift up in a draft and hover like fiery bats from hell before flapping their way toward your hair.  Just put the guest you like least near the area of the fire where the draft is the strongest.  They'll soon get the hint and leave.
     #3.  My favorite and most important rule of all is the one R.J. came up with, and for obvious reasons...WHAT HAPPENS AT THE FIRE PIT, STAYS AT THE FIRE PIT!

25 comments:

  1. Ha! flames and sparks are a man thing.... :)

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  2. I wouldnt trade bonfire nights for anything! THATS where the wild things are haja. ~your best daughter Jane ;)

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  3. Robert---you are so correct! I think I'm out-numbered here!

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  4. All thumbs up to one great site here! Cheers and more power always.

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  5. Looks absolutely lovely. Also I must add that I love the song playing!¨

    x
    Valentina de Pertis

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  6. You are missing a lot of fun at tyour pit fire by not playing the classic "will it burn' game. Each attendee has to bring something to toss in the fire to see if it will burn. Extra points for creativity. Here is a list of my research so far:

    * Bowling balls do not burn. They melt. Oh my god do they melt!
    * Watermelons do not burn. They shrivel up, and then you can point at grandma and say "hey, you're next!"
    * Coffee creamer burns. Actually it explodes. Will it Burn game rookies should not attempt.
    * Carpeting does not burn, it just smokes and stinks. Leave this one to the end.
    * The tall green plant from the backyard of my hippy neighbors. These burn. Gather close to the fire and feel the vibe.
    * Cans of starter fluid. These tend to burn, and burn rather quickly. An additional downside is that they explode and shoot a fireball 100 feet in the air. Take that forest creatures!

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  7. Ketchup Chips, you are one crazy guy but I like the way you think! I'm definitely going to try this game!!!

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  8. I agree with you about men and fires! Yes my son was just like your boy too - he enjoyed burning his plastic toys and even his sister's! I wonder maybe there's something about campfires and men - it arouses their primitive instincts?

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  9. visit you today....debugfife

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  10. It used to make me crazy when my old boyfriend would scout the yard for what I called fire fodder. I hated it when he put coconuts on my firepit. So afraid of exploding coconutty milk stuff everywhere....

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  11. Wow Nancy---I never thought of using coconuts---I'm glad you warned me!!!!!

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  12. Ha, your backyard now joins the Pyramids and the Great Wall in China as the only man made objects visible from orbit!

    You reminded me--the temp dipped below 60 here in Phoenix tonight--gotta go get the fire pit started!!

    capnaux.blogspot.com

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  13. hi.
    have a fun. i missed activity like this, i remember when i was in middle school very happy and much fun

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  14. I am a new GFC fan visiting you from blogger. I would love a follow back, however, GFC is ending on Wordpress so I have already actually removed the widget from my sidebar. I would love it if you would follow me in someother format though. Here is my blog Its the Simple Things Thank you so much

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  15. You always bring a smile to my face when I come here. I love those hollow belly things that you can put on your patio and burn a lovely small fire. As soon as I get back to my house I'm getting one!

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  16. when i was a kid, there's like something interesting to play with fire and i don't know why it feel like some satisfaction to see something burn even it just a piece of paper..

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  17. it's a fun activities. remind me of the old days :)

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  18. pl ollow mine too
    http://shekharaerosoft.blogspot.in/

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  19. Hi Mom, look I've became a follower of your great blog...!!
    Enjoy this wonderful life with your loved ones..

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  20. I'm now following your blog :) Thank you for becoming my friend on Bloggers.com

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  21. Really cool blog! Thanks for wanting to be friends. Do you know my friend Tracie who blogs at menopausbarbees.com? A truly interesting (and relevant) topic!

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    1. Thanks for the visit! I don't know Tracy but I will certainly check out her blog!

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  22. I get totally transfixed when sat at a fire. I have a fireplace at home but as I am renting I darent see if it works incase I set the whole place alight. Boys and their toys hey. they certainly like different things to us women lol. Cool pics by the way xx

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    1. Even though our temperatures are in the 80's now, the men in my family are still insisting on fires at night. I have to sweat through them to keep everyone happy!
      Thanks for visiting and glad you like the pics!

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  23. Oh gosh, that is so awesome. I would love to be able to do that every weekend. We have to make do with a fire in the grill to roast marshmallows and hot dogs when we do it. My husband has a thing for fire too. When he does get a chance to make one at some kind of gathering, he tries to make it big as possible, which always makes me think something is going to be burning to the ground. Fires are so relaxing and I love the atmosphere it creates in cold weather only. I agree on the not fun part of having a hot flash while your by the fire.

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