Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall Shenanigans

Well, it's fall once again. It's Dr. Zombie's favorite time of year. It's apple cider, autumn leaves, pumpkins, Great Lakes Brewery Nosferatu lager, thunderstorms, and Halloween.


One of the other inevitabilities of autumn is it's the time of the year when Doctor Zombie's thoughts turn to the age old Zombie family tradition of dressing in camo and wreaking bloody havoc andvengeance upon the vast armies of raging, furry, woodland creatures.

That's right - it's hunting season.

The funny thing is that I'm actually not allowed to mention what is known in the house as the "H-word" until September 1st. Mrs Z hates the annual bow hunting trip, the annual Deer Shotgun trip, the Christmas Eve morning small game hunt, the January muzzleloading trip and the big Spring Turkey trip... with a passion. This year will be even worse because I'm doing a lot of travelling for work. I will, seriously, be in Tampa the beginning of November, go bowhunting two weeks later, come back for a week and a half, go Shotgun hunting, come home for 3 days, and then go to a conference in Chicago.

Mrs. Z. will not be happy.

Add into that the fact that ZombieBoy will start hunting this year, which means I'll need to go a few additional weekends with him to teach him what he needs to know. He won't be going to deer camp yet. I don't think he's ready for that. Besides the fact that we drink quite a bit (at night and only after all weapons have been secured - we're not idiots), we're also a pretty profane bunch.

That and we've been known to have lapses in judgement that I'm not ready to expose my son to yet. I've detailed one of those escapades earlier in my recounting of the time my father and I almost died while simultaneously sinking my Jeep in a raging river.

But there've been many other incidents. For instance... the time I almost blew my dad up.

Sit back, dear reader, and reaad about the idiocy of Doctor Z...

So, at deer camp a few years back we were sitting around the fire at dusk. We were bored and -- as usually happens, we were having a conversation about important stuff, like how to take care of the beaver dam at the bottom of the meadow on our property.

There was some talk about a backhoe, and some tow chains, but I was convinced that a flare taped to a 25 pound propane tank would do the trick. For safety, we'd of course shoot it from a distance with a rifle, but that was the only way to go. I was of course overruled, but to this day I'm convinced this was the best option. I mean who doesn't want to shoot a propane tank with a high powered rifle, watch it explode in a brilliant burst of fire and concussive waves, and then cheer as a beaver dam lets loose in spectacular disaster movie syle?!?

But I digress... any way, as this was going on, I realized that I had brought something I needed to dispose of. As my deer camp buddies discussed the logistics of unengineeering a beaver damn - that RIDICULOUSLY didn't involve the application of high explosives - I pulled out half a can of Pyrodex black powder.

You see, I'd bought a new inline muzzleloader that took the pellets, so I didn't need the loose powder anymore. I told my dad I didn't need it, showed it around, and one thing led to another... we started throwing capfuls of the blackpowder into the fire.

It would flare and flash with satisfying intensity and the lizard part of our male brains soon turned to more shenanigans. Any man who tells you he's mature and responsible is lying because -- when he gets a few belts in him, there's no woman around, and there's explosives of any kind involved -- we will ALL immediately revert to immature, dumb 10 year olds.

And that's where we found ourselves.

I should preface with the fact that we were done hunting, it was evening, and we had only one or two beers in us at the time...

Anyway, the throwing of a capful at a time soon wore off as it inevitably should, and that's when I said, "We should run a long line and light it, like in the cartoons. We'll Wile E. Coyote it!"

Famous last words...

At the time this seemed like a good idea. This is one of those 'good' ideas that is usually preceded by the statement, "Here, hold my beer. Watch this!"

And as we all know, that never ends well...

We set in motion our plans to re-enact the actions of a cartoon character who, if we'd thought about it, should have served as a dire warning. We moved away from the fire a good thirty feet as we were at least sort of thinking about safety, and my dad began pouring the line of Pyrodex. The plan was to go for a twenty or so foot line and leave the can at the end. When we lit the opposite end, we'd stand behind a tree and watch the awesomeness of the resulting combustion.

At least that was the plan.

My dad had a ten foot or so trail poured and was still holding the can when when an errant spark jumped out of the fire... and hit the end of the trail

Faster than any mere human can react - the flame raced up the line of Pyrodex, jumped up into the air, and into the can.

I was ten feet from my dad when it happened and didn't even have time to yell a warning. There was a blinding flash of fire, a billowing cloud of smoke, and an earsplitting explosion.

My first thought was, "Fuck. My dad's dead. My mom's going to kill me when I have to tell her that Dad blew up."

The smoke slowly cleared to reveal my Dad, his face and jacket black from the explosion, and his white hair sticking straight out from the sides of his head. The cartoon comment from earlier seemed oddly prophetic because he looked like Wile E. Coyote after getting snookered by that damned Road Runner. His eyes gleamed white from his gunpowder darkened face like one of those old time racist minstrels in black face.

"Wow. That was stupid." he said, in a masterpiece of understatement.

The aftermath? He split the skin on two fingers and had a bruise where the can had blown backwards into him -- less than an inch from his junk. On a cool note -- you know the shape of a Pyrodex can? Sort of like a big Spam can? Well, the explosion sucked it inside out and made it as round as a soup can.

So. Lesson learned? Will my father and I stop doing dumb stuff when we've a few belts of Irish whiskey and beer in us?

I doubt it.

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