The Firebugs

FirebugsKids do crazy things!

Teenagers do even crazier things!

Boy teenagers, who like to play with fire, well, they’re just plain dangerous!

They just don’t know it.

I have a brother, Jim, who’s a year older than I. Believe it or not, we were teenagers once. And, it’s nothing short of a miracle we made it beyond the teenage years!

We had a lot of fun! Even when there was a risk of getting into trouble, we “weighed the advantages against the disadvantages”, “counted the cost”, and jumped in with both feet.

Now, mind you, we weren’t mean kids. We never bullied anyone, as we were “peace loving” boys. See, guys our size are smart to be lovers of peace. It just makes sense.

Anyway, we would do stuff like skip school, egg cars (that’s a story in and of itself), set off firecrackers in school, smoke cigarettes (and blow smoke into a policeman’s face -Jim), make fun of ugly girls (we knew one we called “The”), and practice being “cool”.

Oh, and play with fire.

We really enjoyed throwing aerosol cans into the burn barrel. I know, not safe, should only be done by professionals. But, how does one become a professional? Practice!

We were well on our way.

In fact, I enjoyed playing with fire so much, as an adult I found work in two different foundries; a place that allowed me to burn wood, pour hot iron, etc. But, back to our teen years.

The best thing(?) we did was up in our bedroom. I’ll set up the story by giving you a little history. Both Jim and I really enjoyed building model cars. We’d buy a new model whenever we’d save enough money to buy the AMT brand kits. We’d purchase spray paint and enamel brush paint for each kit, as well.

Jim was the one who could really add detail to the model. I’ve seen him take little pieces of string and glue them on an engine to give it plug wires. He registered each vehicle he built with his own Department of Motor Vehicles, even issuing the cars little license plates (to scale, of course). He devised a way to make a vehicle appear to have been in a traffic accident, dented fenders and all, so he could repair the dented fender with a new one.

This is where the “fun” really began.

As I said, we liked to play with fire. We didn’t mean any harm, not at all. But fire was needed for the purpose of authenticity, so we used it.

Our bedroom was on the second floor of the house. It was an average size room with hardwood floors. Our twin beds were positioned so that there was a big open area in the middle of the room. This is where the “vehicle accidents” took place.

We had learned, at an early age, if you poured rubbing alcohol on a wooden floor, then lit it, the alcohol would burn, but not the wood. Completely safe! (We didn’t noticed it was ruining the floor’s finish, but, hey, we were young.) We would “practice” this burn technique after it was time for our lights to be out. You can imagine, alcohol burning, flames dancing on the floor, creating a really cool light display throughout the room.

So, my brother came up with an idea. A terrific idea! Cover an area of the floor (about 4 square feet) with alcohol, but right before you light it, pour some of the fluid on the car fender that needed “repaired”. Then, light the floor, roll the car across the floor into the flame. Upon entering the flame, the vehicle ignites. Let it burn for a short while, then, before you blow out the fire, take another car and simulate an accident. After the soften fender is dented, blow out the fires, and presto, you have a perfect fender bender.

I don’t know how many fenders he repaired. I will say this; he had the busiest body shop in town.

Until Dad entered the room!

One evening, after many nights of perfect burning, the fire got a little out of control. I was laying on my bed, watching Jim try to stomp out the fire. Well, apparently Dad heard the stomping also, and decided to investigate.

I can still hear those footsteps coming up the stairs. Dad’s footsteps on the stairs, and Jim’s in our room; like they were trying to outrun the other.

Dad won.

The bedroom door flew open, and our mouth’s opened even wider. Dad’s eyes were screaming even louder than his voice! To this day I don’t know if the fire I saw in his eyes was just a reflection of the burning floor, or something else. My guess is, something else.

Busted! Boy, howdy, busted!

That was the end of Jim’s body shop and my fire building and maintenance “program”.

As you can well imagine, we did have to contend with a different kind of fire the rest of the evening. Ouch!

We THOUGHT we had the fire under control. We never thought there was even a possibility of losing control.

People feel the same about the words they use throughout each day. They don’t realize words can be like fire. They could be saying things just for fun, not meaning to hurt anyone.

Houses burn down, lives are destroyed, through hurtful, insensitive words.

James writes: “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:5 – 3:6 NLT)

You may not be a firebug like my brother and I (were). But your words have the capacity to burn the “finish” off of your closest and dearest relationships. Even if you don’t burn your house down, you can ruin the value of your relationship.

You must decide how you are going to use your words.

“Scoundrels create trouble; their words are a destructive blaze.” (Proverbs 16:27 NLT)

“Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.” (Proverbs 26:20 NLT)

“A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” (Proverbs 15:1 MSG)

Don’t be like some silly teenage boys. Think about your words before you become a firebug and “set the floor on fire.”