I am sure we have all had that thought as a kid and even into adult hood when a parent or friend or authority figure looks at you and says “What were you thinking!?!?!” As long as the person asking is not wearing a badge and a gun we usually get off light or in the best cases not get punished at all. Until we get older and even those times where we got away with it we now look back and ask….. Just what was I thinking.
Most of my “what were you thinking” stories involve fireworks. I was introduced to fireworks at a young age on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where I would spend the mid summers dancing at pow wows, bored to tears or shooting bottle rockets at the tribal police. I was so young, under 10, that all the tribal cops could do was say “NO! don’t do that!” and take my bottle rockets away. I soon learned not to carry my entire arsenal with me at once and like a badly inbred Irish Setter I would take no heed and carry on with my mischief.
As I got older I become more and more creative. Shooting bottle rockets at cops was fun but the older I got the more advanced the methods of behavioral modification open to the tribal police became. So don’t mess with the cops they never ever think anything is as funny as you think it is anyway. It was then that cattle trucks caught my attention.
Getting fireworks into the trailer of a cattle truck is not an easy thing to do. You can spend all afternoon on it and get 1 or 2 penetrations. Upon successful insertion of the recreational explosive the truck would proceed a short distance down the road and the trailer would begin rocking due to the confined stampede. BANG! MOOOOOOOOOO! CRASH CRASH! SQUEAL OF BREAKS….. And my buddy Anthony and I would run. It was hysterical at the time but today I look back at that and think. “What the hell were you thinking!?!?! you could have killed someone!!!!!!!” Yea not funny anymore, but deep down inside it still makes me smirk a bit. Do not ask how I got m80s into cattle trucks driving down the highway I am not gonna tell you. Not only is it bad for the cows, and drivers, you could seriously hurt yourself. Don’t do it you will blow your hand off.
I then moved to Durango Colorado. Fireworks were much harder to get my hands on in Durango so I augmented class C fireworks with other options. I lived at a complex called Whispering Pines, when changing the i and e in Pines around on the sign got dull. I decided that there were other ways to have fun.
The Mammoth Smoke. Some parts of Colorado allow fireworks, but even in places were they are allowed anything that goes up in the air or goes bang is forbidden. That means you have fountains, smoke bombs, snakes and sparklers. which are just slightly more fun than getting leeches on your balls swimming in the irrigation ditch. After firing off one or yea just one you start thinking, what could make this more fun? The mammoth smoke was advertised as a military grade smoke bomb, with “no explosive material” so it was legal. I put the thing on a big boulder light the fuse and stepped back. The first thing it did was blow up.
The top of the the smoke bomb caught fire and rolled off the rock and into the dry knee high grass below. Instant conflagration… awesome! I am jumping up and down doing a fire dance choking on sulfur smoke. I keep kicking the flaming smoke bomb and starting new fires. My friend, I have long since forgotten his name… probably due to this incident, takes off running towards the apartments shouting “FIRE OH MY GOD FIRE!!!!!!!” Leaving me to put out the flames. That was the first of two smoke bomb induced blazes I have unwittingly created. Figured I would learn after the first one but no not me.
Fireworks in the hallway, fireworks in the laundry room, fireworks in the garage. I even set off a home made sulfur bomb in the hallway. I nearly got caught on that one. The hallways are open air so they are not confined and that is important for my next story.
The fireworks were long gone and there were no weekend pow wows anymore so my boredom increased exponentially. Since I like fireworks I also liked Estes Model Rockets, unfortunately my last rocket was lost but I had an extra D sized rocket engine. I had nothing to put it in, nothing to launch it with but I lived on the ground floor and outside my door was a large rock I could use as a launch pad.
Ok so I had the biggest most powerful rocket engine Estes sells. I had no rocket, and had broken my hand held battery powered launch control box. It was awesome, it had a key, and arming light, and a fire switch. The engines are electrically fired using a small igniter about the size of a match head. I take the naked engine out the patio door and place it on a boulder facing away from the apartments. I figured that the engine would launch forward and harmlessly away from the building. I take the lead wires and stick them into the outlet. The first igniter burns through but does not catch. I should stop while I am ahead but that retarded irish setter thing is still there. I try it again.
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH thump thump thump thump bang!. I am coughing in a cloud of acrid smoke. I look at the smoke trail and it leads not harmlessly out from the apartments but into the hallway which is now filled with smoke. My friend and I make no noise, we just split in opposite directions. I do not think I have ever run so fast in my life. After 20 minutes I came back and was cleaning the carbon marks off the walls of the hallway. I spent the next weeks in fear of the letter from the apartment managers that never came.
The hammer finally did fall one spring day. I had assisted some neighbor girls who wanted to make pompom balls out of yarn. The letter came. Someone witnessed me helping the girls make pompoms and horror of all horrors… it made a mess on the stairs. If they only knew……
This is not counting the innumerable bottle rocket fights, roman candle wars, mortar shells in port-a-potties and attempts at bomb making that I committed over the years. The amazing thing is that all of this was done stone cold sober. I can not blame alcohol or illegal drugs or even a few chugs of Nyquil for my actions. I somehow still have all my body parts. Well here is to all that things that seemed like a good idea at the time.