Since I'm not getting much sewing done I'll post this instead.
Everyone has memories of their childhood. The little family outings, vacations, and traditions.
Hans' boyhood memories consist of family sailing weekends, playing tennis at the club, and visiting their family abroad.
When I was growing up I remember how we entertained ourselves by watching the neighbors through the picture window of our livingroom. Like the time our neighbor's wife ran up and down the street screaming ,"Karl shot himself! Karl shot himself!" And we all watched in horror as Karl reeled drunkenly out of their house, clutching his bloody hands to his bloody head, and staggered around their yard.
Oh my God! should someone call an ambulance?
Hell no! was the general concensus as we were all sick to death of Karl's antics.
Unfortunately, Karl made a quick recovery, as his injury was just a flesh wound received as the result of trying to straighten bullets with a hammer.
Then there was the matinee that Timmy, our neighbor from across the street, performed for us one lazy Sunday afternoon.
Timmy was 'special', in that he was slightly slow and massively obese. Timmy was twenty- something and lived with Mom and Dad. Timmy may have been a little slow, but he held down a full time job and bought his own car, which he would sit in for hours on end, listening to the radio. Timmy's mom used to lament that she wished Timmy would settle down and get married as she was anxious for grandchildren!
One day Timmy waited for his parents to leave and then proceded to set in motion a plan that must have been festering inside his head for ages.
My dad noticed something odd was going on when Timmy appeared at the front of their house dragging the family burn barrel behind him. Carefully he placed it, just so, on the berm of the highway and then went back into the house. Shortly thereafter he came out with the Sunday paper which was dumped into the barrel. He made another trip around the back of the house and this time he returned with a milk jug. Half of the contents of the milk jug went in with the newspaper and that's when my dad said, "What the hell is he doing?"
That was when I started watching.
Dad caught me up to speed and we watched as Timmy emerged from the house once again, approached the barrel and ....pulled a packet of matches from his pocket.
"What the hell..." Dad started to say, when WHOOOOOSH the lit match hit whatever combustible fluid Timmy had dumped into the barrel and Timmy (who'd been peering into the depths of the barrel) very calmly took a step back as roaring flames shot out of the top.
"What the hell is that crazy bastard doing?" Dad shouted with glee, which brought my mother running in from the kitchen.
She peered out the window. "Why is their burn barrel out on the highway?" she asked.
"How the hell should I know?" Dad wheezed. "Why don't you ask Timmy?"
"I'm not sure his parents would like this." Mom worried. "Maybe we should do something."
"Let him go, for God's sake, he's not going to hurt anything." Dad waved her away. "Too bad that barrel's so far from their house though, if that place went up in flames, he'd be doing us all a favor."
My mother swatted him with her dishtowel and went back to the kitchen. Dad turned his recliner to face the window and I pulled up a chair.
So while Timmy, in total rapture, watched the fire, we watched Timmy, and occasionally a car would toot its horn as it drove by.
Every now and then, Timmy would come out of his reverie to go into the house for more tinder. The tinder being; everyday household objects such as the mop, more papers, magazines, a few items of clothing including a coat, a wooden foot stool, some decorative baskets etc...
After each new object was sacrificed, the milk jug would make an appearance and the flames would wildly leap about and Timmy would stare, tranfixed.
Another trip around the back of the house brought forth the garden hose. But not for putting out the fire. The hose complete with metal nozzle was dropped in, and black tarry smoke rolled out.
Mom announced that lunch was ready and for once my dad didn't run for the kitchen. Since this was odd behavior on Dad's part, Mom came in to see what was going on.
"What's he burning over there?" she asked. "This is making me nervous."
"More like what isn't he burning!" Dad hadn't had this much fun in a long time and he made Mom bring us our lunch in the living room.
We were finishing up when Timmy disappeared into the house. When he didn't come out Dad was worried that Timmy had forgotten what he was doing and that our matinee had come to an abrubt end.
Then the door opened and Timmy staggered out of the house under the weight of a heavy object. We leaned forward to see what it was. It looked like a suitcase and then we both realized it was the family record player. For those of you too young to remember; before CD players came out, people had record players, and big vinyl records were played on the turntable. This particular record player was enclosed in a big hard case with a lid, and was big and bulky.
We watched Timmy feel his way to the barrel and then WHOMP, in went the record player, sparks flew, and my dad howled with laughter. Mom came running in from the kitchen, in time to witness the resulting undulating flames, as the last of the milk container's contents were heaved into the barrel.
"Sweet Jesus!" Dad squeaked as he wiped the tears from his face. "There won't be any Johnny Cash tonight!"
"This is ridiculous!" Mom said. "I'm calling the fire department."
"Leave him be!" Dad gasped for breath. "You can call them if he torches the house. But make sure it's really going good before you do!"
Dad almost had a stroke when Timmy took another sojourn to the back of the house and returned, laboring under the weight of an obviously full bucket.
We waited expectantly and held our breath as the entire bucket was poured into the barrel. Imagine our disappointment when the flames disappeared and huge plumes of black smoke billowed forth. The bucket had been full of water.
"Jesus Christ!" my mother swore as heavy, greasy smoke drifted toward our house. "Goddammit, I've got clothes on the line and now I have to bring them in. As if I don't have enough to do." She slammed out the door.
Timmy timed things pretty well. His parents arrived home an hour or so later and walked right past the smoldering burn barrel, never even giving it a second glance and by morning it was gone, relegated to the back yard no doubt, to wait for it's next exciting adventure with Timmy.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in their house that night. In addition to the disappointment of no Johnny Cash or Tammy Wynette I can just hear Timmy's mom.
"Has anyone seen the cat?"