Or - why I shouldn't be allowed near a barbecue grill.
We spent yesterday up at our place on Lake LBJ, which was a lot of fun, as usual.
At about 3:00, the kids started getting punchy and hungry, so I decided to get lunch/dinner on its way. B and his dad were busy mucking about with the boat and the boat lift, so I took it upon myself to light the grill.
Growing up, I became a master of starting the grill at my parents' house one of those great chimney devices. And now we have a propane grill at the house, which lights with a push of a button and a big whoosh.
But my only experience with using lighter fluid and charcoal comes from watching my grandfather, may he rest in peace, who used charcoal and gasoline. When we heard the rumble of charcoal hitting the grill and saw my grandfather head for the garage with that glint in his eyes, my grandmother would herd all the kids in the house. Once the whoosh and the fireball had died down, she'd sound the all-clear, and we'd be allowed back outside.
Of course, at some point my grandfather would decide that the flames weren't high enough, and he'd head for the gas can again. We'd get shooed back inside while he risked his life by throwing gasoline on a live fire. It was always great fun to watch from the relative safety of the house.
My parents even gave my grandfather one of the chimney contraptions, but he used with with gasoline. Instead of a fireball, he'd have this glorious column of flames.
But yesterday I figured I could handle lighting a simple fire in the grill. I neatly stacked the charcoal and coated it with lighter fluid. I twisted a taper and stuck it in the coals, and lit it with one of those long lighter thingies.
Except 10 minutes later the fire had gone out. So I sprayed on more lighter fluid and reached for the lighter. I poked it through the grill rack and turned it on.
And then WHOOOOSSHHHH
a huge fireball exploded out of the grill and into my face. I turned away almost immediately, but I still caught a lot of the flame in my face. The fireball died down right away, and I patted out my hair, which drifted away in singed tufts.
I stomped off and sat down on a blanket to pull myself together. I was furious at myself for having been so stupid, embarrassed at having done such a dumb thing in front of our kids and our friends, and scared about what might have happened. B came over to make sure I was OK and to reassure me that everything was all right. He then told me that fireballs like that don't do a lot of damage, and that nothing terrible would have happened. I told him that my hair could have caught on fire, and he said that it wouldn't have happened. When I said, "It happened to Michael Jackson!" B realized that it was too soon to talk me down.
My neighbor offered me a beer to calm me down, and when I refused she offered a Xanax, which I also refused. I spent the rest of the day feeling a little shaky but otherwise OK.
As a result of the fireball, I'm missing a spot of hair in the front, but not enough that you'd notice. My right eyebrow is a bit singed, and all the hair on my right hand is gone. I also think I burned out all the hairs inside my nose, which still feels tingly and strange today. But no severe burns and no major damage.
I've definitely learned my lesson - I can't be trusted around fire.