MY LIFE – Family Oops Moments

MY LIFE – Family Oops Moments

As I sat here this morning, waiting in vain for inspiration in the form of an idea on which I could hang a story, I suddenly remembered the small spiral-bound notebooks I keep on the little table next to my chair. It is upon these pages that I jot not only names of books I want to read, appointments I want to keep, quotes I want to remember, and what I need to pick up at the grocery store, but also fleeting thoughts of subjects I would like to write about which are more often than not apt to “fleet” as quickly as they came.

OK, I’ve got it. There it is. A full page of cryptic notes, one of which actually says “old cryptic notes.” The one titled “Family Oops Moments” immediately caught my eye, outlining as it did several old stories that seem to happen only in my family. Or, I suppose, it could be that these things happen to others, too, but most people just don’t talk about them.

At the top of the list was “Barb - set hair on fire,” which necessitated reaching out to my daughter for further clarification since I wanted to get the story right. The call, which roused Barbara from a sound sleep, went like this: “Barb, what was the full story behind you setting your hair on fire?” to which she sleepily replied, “Which time?” (See what I mean?)

As it turns out, hair on fire had occurred on two separate occasions. The most minor event, if catching one’s hair on fire could ever be considered minor, had something to do with the kitchen stove having problems that involved Barbara hanging over the burners with predictable results.

The second, which I understand was far more memorable, happened while she was trying to light the fire under a Mongolian hot pot with a Sterno instead of the charcoal she hadn’t realized was called for in the instructions. When something like this happens in front of a table full of dinner guests it is guaranteed to add a certain flare to the occasion.

Keeping with the fire theme here, my son Tom’s name appeared a bit further down on the list with reminders of two other inflammatory events in our “Tales from the Shallow End of the Gene Pool.”

The first occurred many years ago at my daughter Kathy’s when Tom, while attempting to light the flame under a chafing dish … or it could have been a fondue pot ... succeeded instead in setting fire to the whole tabletop. The fuel of choice in that particular pot was alcohol, but it seems that some of it must have dripped onto the table and there you have it! – flambe of the worst sort.

Tom’s second and most spectacular pyrotechnic event happened just a few years ago during a big family camping trip.

Central to our various campsites and cabins was the communal fire pit which we all truly enjoyed. It was how we began most mornings, clustered around its warmth, and it was how we ended every evening, with marshmallows for s’mores toasting and hot dogs and chunks of kielbasa sizzling on sticks.

It may have also been on this trip that we learned how delicious those big frozen squares of hash browns could be when cooked on the grate over a campfire, and I seem to recall a lot of Tater Tots also being roasted, albeit in special baskets. There was almost no limit to what you could cook over the fire, the accent here being on the word “almost.”

And so it came to pass that on one late evening Tom decided to cook some bacon, carefully laying the slices across the bars of the grate. What could possibly go wrong?

As the bacon began to soften and the grease began to drip, we soon learned the answer to that question. The flames shooting a good eight feet or more into the night sky were spectacular to say the least, and the roar from the assembled group soon had me dashing out of my cabin to see what was going on.

The flames eventually died down with no harm done, except maybe to the bacon, although Tom still insists that bacon had never tasted better.

Reading through all of the above has given me pause as I ponder the propensity of my children toward fire-related mishaps ... and then … ah, yes. I suddenly remember the time I accidentally set my beard on fire, but that’s another story that will have to wait for another day.

File under late breaking confessions: Just a few minutes ago when discussing with Barbara what I had just written about Tom and the bacon, she burst out laughing and said she had forgotten all about that. Still laughing, she confessed that she was the one who had convinced Tom that cooking several pounds of bacon on the fire would be a good idea.

Sorry, Tom.