On the threshold between the sacred and the stupid

As a child living in suburbia, I grew up with a relative sense of security. To me the boundaries of the world extended from the little retail store where my friends and I would buy candy to the school yard where we would climb apple trees. A world beyond that one, where bad people lurked, who looked to harm the powerless, seemed unimaginable.

It is often the case with illusions, like a hammer through a pane of glass, that they are shattered by the very realities they are designed to protect us from. For me, my illusion of a safe secure world was crushed by a glowing beacon of truth, television. There was one show, above all others, that made it clear to me that the world was not a safe place. Yet it taught me, that by proper planning, ingenuity, and a hefty supply of trash bags, one could defeat evil. That show was the A-Team.

After just a few weeks of viewing, I knew that my suburban haven was in danger of being invaded by drug lords, gangs, and evil despots. After each new episode, I would walk outside and find people mowing their lawns or walking their dogs, oblivious the impending doom. It was obvious that I could not rely on these boobs to defend us, so I took matters into my own hands. Thus I began my suburban paramilitary training.

It turns out that suburban paramilitary trainers cannot be found in the yellow pages. Using the expert guidance of Hannibal, Murdock, BA, and Face, I put together my own training regimen. I knew that one of the keys to our defense was to be properly armed. I was disgusted to learn that, as a 12 year old child, no one would sell me an assault rifle. But I remained undeterred. I rounded up some of the other neighborhood boys and we headed down to the school yard for munitions training. In our case munitions consisted of crabapples stuck to the ends of sticks. For target practice we took aim at the most evil thing in our experience: Wilson Hills Elementary School. You can actually launch a crabapple at a respectable velocity from the end of a two foot long stick. After pelting the school with a few hundred apples, I felt that phase of training was complete.

Because suburban paramilitary groups are often outnumbered, I knew that a full on frontal assault was not the best tactic. I would need to become practiced in the art of stealth attacks. For this stage of my training I decided to practice on the mean old lady who lived in the apartment next to us, Helen. Helen was always yelling at us for playing too loudly. She was obviously evil, so I felt no compunction for targeting her. One day while she was away from home I walked over to her unit. Making sure that I was not observed, I reached into my pocket for the weapon I was to use in the assault: model glue. I pressed in her doorbell and put a nice fat bead of glue around it. Waiting a few moments to make sure the glue had set, I removed my finger. Success! Listening at the door, I could hear the “ding, dong, ding, dong” as the doorbell now rang incessantly. Later that day Helen got home. Hearing the doorbell ringing, she went to the front door. When she found no one there, she went to the back door; again, no one there. She then headed straight for our home. “How did she know!” I wondered. Clearly she was even more evil than I had suspected. Even though I had been discovered, I still considered the training a success.

If there was one thing that I had learned from watching the A-Team, it was that no suburban paramilitary training could be complete without learning how to make a Molotov cocktail. For some reason we did not have any gasoline sitting around the house. That, of course, was not going to stop me. It turned out that we still had a variety of other flammable liquids just waiting for me to experiment with. I settled on rubbing alcohol. I poured the alcohol in a Dixie cup and I went outside. I then crouched in an area between our apartment and a tall row of bushes out front. A few feet away there was the remains of the that past Christmas’s Christmas tree. It was now quite dry. I set the Dixie cup down in the dirt and pulled out a match. Lighting the match, I held it over the alcohol……nothing. I then touched it to the alcohol. It extinguished. I have to say that I was really disappointed at the failure of my experiment. So, I stood up and kicked the cup of rubbing alcohol into the dirt in the direction of the Christmas tree. Suddenly flames leapt in a great ball from the cup to the tree, which then burst into flames too. I stood there stupefied ( for not the first or last time in my life) watching the apartment’s soffit turn black, scorched by the flames now licking at it. It was just then that, running out of her apartment, came evil Helen. For some strange reason she had been watching me. She ran toward the tree and together we dragged it out into the middle of the yard. She then ran back into the house. She returned a moment later with at pitcher of water. After a couple of trips she was able to extinguish the tree. We both breathed a sigh of relief. A feeling of kinship arose between us at having just averted a tragedy. I decided that Helen was not evil after all. It seemed wise at that point to suspend my moltov cocktail training.

A week later, Helen moved away. I wonder if she had watched the A-Team and suspected that there may be a terrorist in the neighborhood.

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