Tuesday, March 28, 2006


In Which God Starts Dealing Jokers Again...

Questions for Discussion

1. Which seems more unlikely to you: that someone could have dehydration AND pneumonia at the same time, or that someone could set his snowblower--and himself--on fire in the middle of a snow storm?

2. If winter clothing is insulated, does that mean it can keep heat out as well as cold?

3. In the Bible, God often uses fire and flame to make a point or get someone's attention. If MM's life were a Biblical story, what point do you think God would be trying to make by setting MM on fire instead of, say, a nearby bush?

Thomas was still shouting and although I was a little distracted and wasn't paying attention--my becoming the Human Marshmallow may have had something to do with it--I'm betting he was shouting what I was thinking at that very moment. You know what it was. Many of you shouted it from comments yesterday.

All together now: Stop, drop and roll.

I did the world's most ungainly belly-flop into the yard, and rolled across it. The hissing sound was almost instantaneous. I rolled and rolled and rolled, not only until I was sure the fire was out, but also far enough to end up in my neighbor's yard. Two houses down.

I lay there for a moment, flat on my back, watching steam from the melted snow rising from between my legs (at least, I hoped it was steam from the melted snow). My gloves still had small glowing pockets and I could see little holes eroding slowly into the gloves, deeper ito the gasoline-saturated material. I shook them off and lay there panting, trying to decide if any part of my body felt like it was, you know, combusting.

But before I could decide this, something hit me in the face with a cold, wet FWAP! And suddenly I was snowblind. The FWAPing continued as I was beat mercilessly about the head, chest and legs--FWAP! FWAP! FWAP! FWAP! I waved my arms blindly, feebly and cried through a mouthful of snow. What the hell was going on?

"Put him out! Put him out! Get more snow! Is he out?" I heard Thomas shouting.

"Stop! Stop!" I said, half shouting, half-begging. I wiped snow from my glasses--my tinted goggles gone in the long roll across my neighbors' yards. The goggles may not have kept up with me, but my kids had. There they stood, toy shovels loaded with snow, hovering inches from my body.

"Are you unstinguished, Daddy?" the Brownie asked, her voice in an urgent and worried tone I haven't heard from her in ages.

I nodded. But just to be safe, I grabbed her shovel and smacked the one pantleg that still seemed to be steaming. Once I was satisfied that nothing on me was actually smoldering, I remembered the fiery snowblower and flaming cement driveway was somewhere behind us. I jumped up and looked around.

I needn't have worried. Two doors up, at my house, the driveway no longer had flaming trails on it. And the snowblower was fine. It didn't even have so much as a singe on the paint job.

Which is more than I can say for me.


Well, as you can guess, the fuel line had a leak in it, which spilled my 3/4 tank of gas onto the garage floor, exactly where I ended up sitting when I lost my balance. When I filled the tank again and started it up, the gas slowly trickled down the bottom of the blower, onto the wheels and then onto the driveway while I worked. All we needed was a stray spark and, as you may recall, when I'm running the blower on less than an inch of snow, the edge makes lots of sparks on the driveway.

When Thomas and the Brownie saw me turn around, they swore there was a circle of flame behind me, following the exact track of the wheels, and then hitting my gas-soaked snow pants.

"I never knew anyone who caught on fire before," Thomas said, examining my pants and gloves. "Did it hurt?"

Thankfully, no. Turns out the insulated snow pants did protect me. The jeans I was wearing underneath them didn't even have so much as a singe. And I got my gloves off before the fire burned holes all the way through them. So I guess we all know the answer to question #2.

Afterwards, when the excitement was over and the fuel line was repaired and every possible area where gas could be sitting had been soaked up or hosed down, we all sat down over hot chocolate and regaled Her Lovely Self with our latest adventure (with heavy emphasis on the quick thinking of Thomas and the Brownie in trying to put Daddy out, and a brief glossing over of the details of how Daddy actually managed to set himself alight in the first place).

She's still not feeling so well, and I wasn't sure whether the story would amuse or upset her, but there was no hiding it. I mean, LOOK at my pants.


In the end, she smiled and praised her two wonderful, brilliant children and gave me, her beloved idiot, a squeeze of her hand. I held it in my own and squeezed back, and thought about question #3.

I don't ponder much on the force or forces that shape my life, but when I do, I like to imagine that Fate, Destiny, Good Luck, Bad Luck, Karma, they're all cards in one big deck that gets dealt to me, one card a week til the deck is gone. Then the deck gets shuffled and re-dealt to me, over and over. And God, I guess, is the dealer.

(Yeah, I know, not the most original of analogies. Everyone does the deck-of-cards-equals-life analogy. So maybe Fate, Destiny, etc. are like different props in a box on a stage and my life is one big improv show and--

No, never mind. Let's stick with the cards. I've had a long few weeks.)

Sometimes I get cards I don't want--not ever. But most of the time, I think God deals me Jokers and gives me a life that's fun and odd and wacky to live. And with it, he also gives me an urge to share that life with others. I wanted to stop doing that for a while, but clearly that wasn't in the cards. I think the Almighty just wanted to remind me of that.

And to light a fire under my ass to get me moving in the right direction.

So here I am again.

Deal me in.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Yeah, pard, belly up to this here table and place yer bets.

I used to think *my* hand was full of jokers. Sheesh.

Felicitations on your unstinguishment. You seem to be on a mission to find new and interesting ways to kill yourself: first you almost hack to death, then you damn near go up in a blaze of astonishment. Can you maybe find some new mission to embark on? One far from lethal objects and devoid of perilous pratfallery? These epic accounts of your battles with Fate are very entertaining, but only because you keep winning.
Shoot, MM will always win! No need to worry about a little life-threatening danger.


Glad you got those gloves off, MM, and that the pants' insulation saved your jeans. (Do they smell like smoke?)

My husband and I moved into a new apartment on Saturday, and the very next day there was a fire right behind the place, along a line of trees and pine straw. Fortunately it happened in the daytime and the firefighters got to it quickly.

My friend was like, "Did you guys piss off the God of Fire or something?" But hey, at least it didn't burn up all our possessions this time.

Sometimes I look back at all the things that have happened to me and wonder if there is a reason. But ultimately I figure I have to take humor in what I can, and just keep living.

In a way, I'm glad you caught on fire. It seems to have been what you needed.
i am a horrible, horrible person - because while i was reading this, "chestnuts over an open fire" was running through my head... along with an image of yosamite sam - "my bisquits are burning! my bisquits are burning!" *gigglesnort*

glad you survived to blog another day and kudos to the magazine munchkins for saving the day, and i'm glad you're back. :-)
ericka - I thought it was "Chester's nuts roasting over an open fire..."

I think you got the message being sent MM....things could be A LOT worse.

Once again...glad you're OK.
BRAVO!!! *standing ovation* That goes for the story, the kids heroism, and lesson learned.
You are such a card. Hyuk, hyuk.
You and your wonderful family are something else. Thanks for sharing!!


P.S. What happened to the beard?

That's right. I forgot to mention I lost the beard. It burned off in the fire.

No, in fact, I shaved it off when I was sick in Florida. As I dimly recall, I was so hot, I thought shaving it would cool me off. Also, at the risk of providing too much information, vomiting and facial hair are rarely a good match.

Very observant of you, though!
I think God was using fire to tell you to get your butt back in the house. Having been recently released from the hospital due to pneumonia and still dealing with a roller coaster of emotions and stress, outside in the snow is no place for you.
Whoever coined the ophrase "to light a fire under one's ass" couldn't have imagined it like this.
Glad you're safe!
Thanks for sharing and opening up your life and emotions to us. Welcome back, although you didn't need to light your ass on fire to make a point ;)
Just for the sake of clarity, the joke's punchline is "CHET'S NUTS roasting on an open fire..."
Is it wrong to laugh out loud about someone setting himself on fire? I feel like it kind of should be wrong but man, it's just so damn funny the way you tell it. Though I am very glad you're okay and that your kids are such quick thinkers.
"I think the Almighty just wanted to remind me of that.

And to light a fire under my ass to get me moving in the right direction."

Yeah. Or he's trying his best to get you on his staff.

First, once again you made me laugh and cry in the same missive.

Second, Who here *hasn't* seen "Napoleon Dynamite"? All I can picture is Pedro attempting to cool himself.

Third, brilliant children you have. It is one thing to understand what *should* be done in an emergency, but it takes a special kind of brain to actually do it. The fact that they ran after you and didn't stop pelting you with snow until you were safe, that is truly a display of excellence. I pray that I have taught my children near as well as you and HLS have taught your own.

Fourth, "unstinguished" is another reminder at how brave your daughter is around vocabulary. I gotta lotta respect for that. (sorry, when I get excited, my New Jersey accent lets its slip show)

Fifth, I thank G-d for answering our prayers, that you wouldn't lose yourself within the latest bits of sorrow. Your wonderful, upbeat smile in the face of "Oh Lord, I've set myself on fire" is an inspiration, especially for my attempt to be less grousy.
On a seperate note, Magazine Man resembles Ben Folds.
I'm glad you're back in the saddle again!

Giddy up!
Oh, Stu, you take me for a better Dad than I am (and I love it). The awful truth is, of all the life lessons and contingencies I've covered as a parent, I've never addressed "what to do when Daddy sets himself on fire." Luckily for me, Thomas is a very attentive student during Fire Safety Week at school and it's because of HIM that we've actually performed home fire drills and set up meeting places and all that.

Also, I suspect that living with me has given the kids above-average exposure to household disaster, which probably sharpened their response time.

As for the Brownie's vocab, I've got a future blog percolating about that. But you're right: she never lets shaky pronunciation stand in the way of using a big words. She would be pleased that you noticed.
Everytime I read about the Brownie in your blog, my heart squeezes up and gets all warm. I can't WAIT til she's got a blog too~

Home fire drills! Meeting places! That Thomas is a good person to have in case of emergency, wow.

I'm glad you're back. We love you! Look at the comments! Look at the love!
wow. I'm glad you're ok. Good going with the 'stop,drop, and roll.' And great job to Thomas and the Brownie for their quick thinking and prompt action. Chasing someone on fire to put him out... that's pretty courageous.
I'm glad this incident made you get back in the saddle and not take a break from blogging. I know you had a very good reason to take a hiatus, but I would have missed you.
And regarding this latest mishap...How is it that YOU don't have a sitcom based on your laugh? If you did, there would be no need for a laugh track, it'd be all natural!
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
To what Claire said: Wow, now that you say it, I can imagine just how frightening that would be. Now I'm way more impressed with the kids. And Thomas, boy howdy, that's what you want, paying attention during Fire Safety. Gold Star!

Magazine Man, you wrote: "I've never addressed "what to do when Daddy sets himself on fire." --first off, that was funny. Second, I am shamefully chuckling at the mental image of your soon-to-be announced lecture, "What To Do When Daddy Sets Himself On Fire Again".

Oh yeah, before I forget... Brownie Blog! Brownie Blog!! Brownie Blog!!!
This is a very sincere "thank you" for sharing your experience. This beats Celebrity Poker hands down. I had tears in my eyes from laughing.

And I needed a laugh today.
Glad you are safe!
I second Stu's motion. MM resembles Ben Folds.

And I thought self-pyromania was limited to war-disgruntled Buddhists...
Wait, wait, a mystery! Who Cut The Fuel Line? There is comedy gold to be mined!
"Who cut the fuel line"?

Man, don't even joke. My first thought was that somehow the crazy lady who left dog poop on our door had gone off her meds again sbotaged my snow blower.

But then I actually examined it. Damn was only held onto the fuel tank by a spring clip, which was broken. I'm replacing it with something that actually screws tightly to the gas tank.

But...did the clip break by itself...or was it done deliberately??

Boy Detective...persona...taking over...must...resist...
Good kids! Brave, smart kids. Between them and the dog, you might just live to get old someday :-)
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