Burning down the toilet.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, I locked myself in the bathroom at my grandpa's house and went through the cabinets. I looked for anything that said FLAMMABLE on the label. When I had collected a few cans and bottles with this warning on them, I began trying to start a fire in the toilet. I figured since I was doing it in the toilet, it would be safe, because the toilet was full of water and could be flushed.

I'd spray or pour a flammable product into the toilet, and then drop a match into the water. Each time, the match would go out with quick sssst sound, and I'd repeat the process.


I did this a number of times in a few minutes, each time with the same result. I decided to give it one more shot. This time I would go all out. I dispensed a very large amount of shaving gel into the bowl, and then to that I added more of each of the other products. I lit a match, and dropped it into the toilet.


A huge fireball shot out of the toilet and into my face. I jumped back, spun around, and looked in the mirror, sure I was going to be hideously deformed by burns that must have been too intense to hurt very much. Instead, I found that I looked the same, though a tiny bit of my hair had been singed into tiny brown lumps. I was shocked that such a huge fireball to the face did so little damage, and kept wondering if the Freddy Krueger burn scars would appear as I stared into the mirror.

And then I smelled the smoke.

I turned around, and saw the toilet paper on the dispenser near the toilet was burning. Worse, my grandpa had shag-carpet cover on the lid of the toilet, and it was also in flames. Panic hit me, and I grabbed a towel and began frantically smacking at the flames. I was terrified that everything adults said about fire was going to come true, and I was going to burn down the whole house. Relief hit me when I put the fire out, but then terror struck once again: what was I going to do with the evidence? I took the cover, the ash-covered towel, and the toilet paper all outside and threw it over the fence, into my grandpa's front yard. I knew they would find it eventually, but there was heavy foliage where I threw it, and I hoped it wouldn't be found soon.

Then I went back to the living room, and sat on the couch watching TV with my cousins as if nothing had happened.

A few minutes later, my grandpa appeared.

"Who was playing with matches?"

Nobody said anything.

"I know somebody was playing with matches, because I can smell it in the bathroom."

My mom and my aunt came in, and my grandpa told them that one of us was playing with matches. We were supposed to go to the pool that day, but they told us if we didn't confess, we wouldn't get to go.

"You won't get in trouble," my grandpa told us, "I just want to know who did it. That's very dangerous."

"It was Ruben!" I said.

"No, it wasn't!" shouted my shocked cousin.

I continued to lay the blame on my cousin for the rest of the day, and he continued to deny it. We didn't get to go to the pool.

A few days later, when I was getting a haircut, the lady cutting my hair asked if I had burned it.

"No," I said, looking at my mom in the mirror and wondering if she could hear us.

"It looks like you burnt it," she said.

"No," I said, "That's just dry hair stuff."

"Oh," she said, almost definitely not believing me.

Maybe it was some sort of cosmic payback when, a few years later, my friend blamed me for setting a knife on fire in the closet of my fifth grade class.


Doug said...

wow, that's pretty shady of you but since you weren't even a teenager I suppose it can be racked up to stupid kid shit. It is still funny as hell though. Did they ever find the remnants?

paulo said...

Somebody had to have found them, because a few years later the bushes that were there were gone. Nobody ever said anything, though.

Lew said...

I love the original story about setting a knife on fire. You have a knife and a lighter? There's only one thing to do, set the knife on fire. I love it. When it was on fire, did you try to flush the toilet?

paulo said...

No, I didn't try to flush the toilet. My first reaction was, "Holy shit, I just took a giant fireball to the face! I better see if I'm hideously disfigured!"

Lew said...

Once, I was trying to light a gas grill, I was like 11, I left the propane on too long. Woooosh. Burnt my hair tips off. Burnt hair smells funny.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for leaving me a comment on my sketchbook blog :) !!!

Orhan Kahn said...

Much funny.

That sounds like something I would've done at your age.. ah, memories, like a fart in the wind.