“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tales From Under A Middle-Aged Colored Woman

A brazier grill loaded with fresh charcoal bri...Image via Wikipedia
 What Did You Do?

My son and I were in the car going to run some errands.  Before we drove off the block we live on, we saw my ten year old neighbor squirting what looked like liquid lighter fluid on a fire burning in a old Weber grill.  Flames flew up, and he jumped back just before the fire almost burned his little, dirt streaked face. Of course, I had to stop and see what he was doing.

I saw someone sitting on the porch and I was hoping and praying it was an adult, but it wasn't.  It was a shirtless three year old girl who never made a sound.  She just stared at me wide eyed with mouth open.  Another boy, who appeared to be seven or eight years old, was standing at the front of the porch next to a cooler.  I ran past them and told the boy to put get away from the fire.  The smaller boy grinned at me.

"We are barbecuing some frogs," he said.   "You wanna see?"

With pride and he opened the cooler.  It was full of water and live turtles and frogs.

"Where are your parents?"  I asked.   

"We won't start a fire if you don't want us to,"  said the ten year old seriously. 

The little shirtless girl had quietly walked off the porch, and stood next to the cooler watching.

"Put out the fire,"  I said.

The ten year old went to the side of the house and got the water hose.  He squirted the grill until the coals were steaming with smoke.

When I got back in the car I told my waiting son what had happened.  He laughed.

I frowned and groaned inwardly.  "What did you do that I don't know about?"

Then he told me a very disturbing story about one of his awful adolescent capers.  Why did I ever ask?

What about you?  Did you ever do anything that you look back on with disbelief?  Do you wonder why   you did it, and survived?


  1. I will share just one of the many regrettable things I did as a child.

    For some reason that I cannot remember, I decided to burn a plastic top from a can of aerosol deodorant. I watched the flames consume the white plastic with fascination. Then the fire got larger than I expected. I needed to put that fire out fast. So I decided to spray the deodorant on it. Flames shot up and the fire burned even more fiercely. I ran to the bathroom and got some water, leaving the fire raging in my upstairs bedroom. This is my first confession to this deed!

  2. I burnt a portion of the front of my hair when I was about 6. We were sitting in a circle around candles during a storm that had caused the power to go out. I was moving my head across the flame. It worked the first time, but the second time, I smelled buring hair.

  3. You were just experimenting! I guess children like to play with fire. My little sister almost burned our house down playing with matches. She threw a burning match in the trash and I came down in the kitchen. The fire had burned out of the trash and was going up the kitchen wall.


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