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This is a post from last Fourth of July. This was one of my more popular posts, presumably because it details an act of irrevocable stupidity on my part. Enjoy.
When we were about twelve years old, my friend and I got our hands on a cache of fireworks. We had everything from firecrackers to the really big stuff. Our potential ranged from slight burns, to watching as the fireman hosed down the side of the house.
We gleefully spent our summer blowing things up and creating a general state of mayhem.
At one point we thought that it would be a clever idea to set off a firecracker in my grandfather’s barn, with the noble goal of making the cows crap.
We had a huge string of firecrackers that we took into the barn. We removed one firecracker from the string and set the string on a barrel. We lit the lone firecracker and threw on the floor in the middle of the barn. We were already chuckling and basking in the glow of our brilliance.
The firecracker went off, leapt into the air, did a strange turn in mid-air, as if it were a guided missile, and landed on the barrel next to the string of firecrackers.
We both tried to grab it, but it was too late. That string of firecrackers took off like a bat out of Hell. We chased it from one end of the barn to the other, yelling, banging into each other, and having no success in corralling it. If I’m not mistaken, it was using evasive tactics.
The cows were in a complete state of panic. They were jumping up and down and trying to break out of their stalls. They were also crapping in a nonstop torrent.
When the string of firecrackers had finally extinguished itself, the air was thick with smoke and the pungent odor of spent gunpowder and cow crap. The lone bull in the barn, had broken loose from its stall, and was glaring at us with a look of unfriendly intent. He was in a state of slight agitation. A bull in a state of slight agitation, closely resembles any other animal in a total rage.
A solitary thought went through my mind: there may have been unforeseen flaws in our brilliant idea.
Moments later another thought took its place: that bull is going to mangle us.
We learned a valuable lesson that day: you can corral an angry bull without being trampled and gored, or you can corral an angry bull without getting yourself covered with cow crap, but you cannot do both.
We chose not to be trampled and gored.
Note: We also learned that the stench of cow feces is a stench that lingers.
Through a series brilliant tactical maneuvers, we were able to calm the bull down and eventually return him to his stall.
Note: It’s amazing what fear and panicked fueled frenzy can inspire.
Then we had to clean up the cow crap, and it was everywhere: on the floor, on the cows, on walls, on surrounding beams, dripping from the ceilings above the stalls, and on us. After that we had to hunt down every vestige of former firecracker, to insure that my grandfather didn’t find out what had happened.
All of this took hours to accomplish.
That night, my grandfather walked into the barn, walked out five seconds later and said, “who set off the firecrackers in the barn?”
We told him the entire messy story. He laughed at us, for what seemed like a longer time than was necessary.
Years later, we were still finding bits of used firecrackers in that barn, continual reminders of our idiocy.
They don’t like firecrackers.
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