Saturday, April 2, 2011

No April Fool

I had intended to post something yesterday for April Fool's Day, but every idea I could come up with on short notice would A. get me fired, B. get me sued for libel, or C. get me blacklisted by Black Library. So you are going to have to wait to hear me celebrate acceptance of the first book in my three-novel Squat series.

Instead, I figure I'll tell you a little story. Sit down, my lovelies, and gather around the fire...

When I was a kid I lived in downtown Annapolis, in easy walking distance of a novelty store called A.L. Goodies. It's still on Main Street if you want to check it out sometime. The store was a treasure trove of cheap gags, bizarre novelties, occasional comic books (when the comic shop wasn't out of business), and tourist amusements. For a kid, it was a great place to pick up the occasional practical joke. I would end up working there for a few years in high school, and remember the store's fart sprays being justly feared. That stuff stuck around.

Anyway, one April Fool's Day well before that, I decided I was going to play the best gag ever on my mom. To wit: I bought a pack of exploding cigarette inserts from A.L. Goodies and slipped them into my mom's pack of Newports.

Now, every smoker reading this is probably drawing back from their monitor and hissing. Please remember, I was a kid at the time, and all I could think of was the laugh I was going to have when my mom's cigarette blew up in her face. (It is painful to type that sentence.) Besides, D.A.R.E. had explained to me at length that smoking was a bad thing, so I figured if I could scare my mom out of the habit I'd be doing her a favor. Oh, the self-justifications of youth...

The exploding inserts, if you're not familiar with them, were little white pellets about the size of an ant. I have no idea what they were made out of. It may have been C-4. Being an explosive designed for use by children, they were easy to use. I just jammed one into the end of each cigarette in my mom's pack that I could reach, deep enough that the tobacco covered them over. And then, being a kid, I forgot all about it.

Fast forward a few days. It's not April Fool's Day anymore. My sister and I are in the back seat of my mom's car, driving back from the grocery store. My mom has just lit up a cigarette. Nobody, including me, realizes that I've booby-trapped the cigarette. Nobody understands that we are mere seconds away from death.

Suddenly the cigarette explodes. It's not a proper explosion, really just a loud bang and a sudden expansion of the end of the cigarette. It's enough. My mom swerves to the right, then back to the left to try to avoid slamming into the cars around her. My sister and I are bouncing around in the back seat and freaking out because we don't know what's happening. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure somebody laid on the horn behind us.

My mom brings the car to a stop on the side of the road and glares at us. She doesn't know who the idiot is, but she has a very short list of suspects. At which point I remember exactly what I did.

Now, I wasn't always an honest kid, but I also don't remember being stupid enough to try and get anything past my mom. So I fessed up pretty quickly, and ended up getting chewed out at length. I remember the phrase "We could have been killed!" coming up more than once. The pack of Newports went directly into the trash.

Looking back on it now, the whole thing was idiotic on my part, but I can't help laughing. Which, honestly, is probably a true statement for any number of stupid things kids get up to. Case in point.

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