I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid in preparation for next month’s book discussion. Although I’m about seven or eight years younger than Bryson, his memoir of growing up in Iowa in the fifties is bringing back some memories for me. It really was a much simpler time: less crowded, less technologically advanced, and stupid people were allowed to do stupid things all the time.
One thing I’ve remembered: It was the late 60’s or early 70’s. We were burning trash in an open fire in the back yard (yes, it was still legal, even then). My brother (although he’s not stupid – anything but!) heard a ticking sound, and went to see what it was. Turned out it was an aerosol can someone had pitched in the trash. Well, needless to say, the can exploded just about the time he got there. He had the extremely good sense to drop and roll, which is more than I would have done.
So, did anyone learn anything from this experience? Well, my parents learned not to put aerosol cans in trash you’re going to burn. I think my brother learned not to get too close to an open trash fire, because you never know what’s going to happen. Me? I learned that you don’t wear shirts made of synthetic fabric.
Like Bryson’s stories, this one ended well, with no lasting harm to anyone involved. If you haven’t read his book, you really should. And if you can come to our book discussion, we’ll be very glad to have you.