November 2008 Archives
I've been attracted to fire from an early age, when dad caught me "mowing" the lawn with a blowtorch.
"I don't care if it is a controlled burn; you get your butt inside."
Only recently, when firemen trained in my area, did I learn what dad already knew: Fire is evil.
Training took place at five houses condemned to burn because they were built sometime during the Mesozoic Era. The battalion chief, who oversaw the drill with a stoic air, Constantine at war, said something about PSI, GPM, NFL. From all accounts, they'd be burning things.
The men paired off for assignments: ventilation, support, and -- gulp -- lying down inside a house WHILE IT BURNED! That person was properly called the "dummy." So it goes.
The captain's face turned grim: "It is not macho when someone melts their helmet. Injuries do not impress me. I want you on your bellies."
You can see why Prometheus, having stolen fire from the gods, was sentenced to have his liver eaten out daily while Mariah Carey played in the background. And why did Prometheus take the blame when, in the same book, we see fire-breathing dragons? I hate plot holes.
Some years later the hippies would set fire to just about everything: draft cards, bras, dolls, several metric tons of controlled flora.
And let's not forget the Keebler Elves Incident of '98: "I don't know what we were thinking, baking inside a tree!"
Zeus had seen it all coming.
Back at our drill, Constantine praised the men who had worked overtime to prep the location, and they all marched off to their posts. I made like a tree and stood there.
After 30 minutes of bullhorn, they finally got to the good part: "Fire in the hole!"
I plugged my ears for an explosion while the Ignition Group calmly walked inside and dropped a flame on the "class A combustibles" -- haystacks, plywood, U.S. currency.
I wonder if an incense factory has ever burned down. Could you see the eleven o'clock news? "And while this fire has caused millions of dollars in damage, the city smells terrific!"
Captain Phil waved me over to House Three. I looked around to make sure he wasn't crazy. Yes, he nodded, come on up. Did I mention that the house next-door was on fire? I climbed the ladder with that giddy feeling you get on your first field trip, only this blew away the post office.
Across the street, commoners gathered like moths at Lamps Plus. The fire truck blasted three times: last call to get the hell out. I took in the blaze a moment longer, knowing I would never again, with any luck, be so close. The dragon crackled and hissed, spitting cinders our way.
"Once it gets like that," said Phil, "we just surround and drown. It's all over."
Until then, I always imagined that I could run into a burning house and save someone's life. Now I'm not so sure. I would at least have to know what kind of person it is. See a résumé or something.
The firemen de-sooted over Gatorade and smeared charcoal on their faces every time they wiped. You have to admire people who, for our safety, put themselves in a position to die regardless of their plans for the rest of the day.
Constantine applauded his troops for a job well done. A few stayed behind to babysit the hot spots, which could smolder for a week if left unattended. Don't worry, dad. It's a controlled burn.
The other night my date asked a question that seems to be on everyone's mind: "Are you gay or just well-spoken?"
I've been taking this grief since elementary, when other kids wondered aloud whether I was a boy or a girl. Evidently, I have some feminine properties. For starters, I'm nice to people (you can see how that might throw them off). I cross my legs wrong and own a melon baller. I love my cat.
But the thing people can't get past is the messenger bag. Barney's assured me that it wouldn't look womanly if I strapped it across my chest like Chewbacca.
The bag still had its tags when I sat down to poker with my buddies.
"Nice purse," said Ernie. "I like how it matches your shoes."
I've done everything to skirt -- er, get around -- the man bag. I carried a backpack but always felt like I was on my way to the bus stop, looking to trade my PB&J for a Twinkie. I also tried a tote bag, a laptop case, a toiletry kit, and then just stuffing my pockets like a hamster.
Ernie asked what's so important that I have to carry it on my person. To be exact: digital camera, mp3 player, appointment book, wallet, cell phone, bank ledger, notepad, pens, cartoon book, glasses, sunblock, Chapstick, hand sanitizer, gum, business cards, harmonica, and a condom that may have expired.
We also found toenail clippers, but I'm pretty sure they were planted.
I will have you know that when the gang went to Mexico and got stranded without sunblock, they sang a different tune about my "purse."
I used to be so normal. I spat and surfed and used dirty socks for oven mitts. Now when I vacuum, I back out slowly so as not to disturb the carpet triangles. When buddies use the bathroom, I say, "You didn't pee standing up, did you? It splashes."
I've developed an urgent need for symmetry. It bothers me, for instance, when Michael Jackson wears only one glove or Pisa doesn't fix that stupid tower. If I ever lose an arm, I'll have to seriously consider removing the opposite leg.
People also accuse me of liking clothes. If they only knew. Sometimes I press against the store window and talk dirty to myself ... "I'm gonna buy the hell out of that jacket."
Regular guys don't think about matching. They're happy so long as their clothes say something about them. Like "Nike" or "NASCAR."
My recent date said that she doesn't trust a man who jogs all the time. Her exact words: "If you can fit into my pants, you can't get into them."
How do I keep finding these women? I must have terrible depth perception.
Gay men sometimes hit on me. I'm flattered, gosh, but never know what to say. In the supermarket, a man followed me, vaguely, for three aisles before cornering me in the deli.
"My name's Peter." He shook my hand. "Nice grip."
Um ... Um ... I'm just well-spoken.
I find myself acting tough to offset the attention. At the gym I stick out my chest and talk like Keanu Reeves: "Hey, dude. Nice shoes..." (applying Chapstick in a manly fashion).
In case you're concerned that you yourself may be metrosexual, I have compiled a list for you to carry in your wallet.
You might be metro if ...
-- you prefer bubble baths to showers.
-- you speak in semicolons.
-- you carry your own salad dressing.
-- you've been "meaning to have sex."
-- you refrigerate your face-care products.
-- your ringtone is "Fur Elise in C minor."
-- you've ever had a chopstick callous.
-- you watch Hugh Grant movies on purpose.
-- you avoid unflattering light.
-- you know about unflattering light.
-- you get anxious when your belt and shoes don't match.
-- you read while stuck in traffic.
-- you have an opinion about thread count.
-- you floss before bed no matter how drunk you are.
-- when someone slurps at a restaurant, you pause significantly.
-- the wallet where you store this list is inside a bag strapped across your chest.
Jason Love writes for The VC Star a humor column called "So It Goes," for which he teams up with Anthony Plascencia to produce entertaining videos.
You can find Jason Love's cartoons and columns in The Denver Post, St. Petersburg Times, Arizona Republic, Funny Times, Frontier Airlines Magazine, etc. He also performs standup comedy throughout L.A. and Ventura counties.
Archives are at his web site.
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