Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Running Around With Your Hair on Fire

Gas Pains, Personal, Strange But True

Braumeister and I try to shoot our bows once a week throughout the year.  Usually Dart Video over at West Town Archery.

It keeps us and our equipment tuned and on-target and allows for making the drawing of a bow, acquiring a target and taking an appropriate shot with confidence.  Most importantly - without hesitation.

Shooting becomes habitual and instinctual.

Sometimes ComplianceMan Smokey Joe joins us.

We used to have a fourth and shoot in a league but job changes, growing families and scheduling challenges have resulted in a more ad-hoc approach to our archery.  In any event, it’s a once-a-week night out with the guys and we always end-up over at Mama’s on Burleigh for pizza or spaghetti.

Where are you going with this Tom? Who really cares about your night out with the boys?

I bring this up for a couple of reasons.

First-off – it’s a good idea to recreate with others on a regular basis.  It probably doesn’t matter a lick whether it is archery, martial arts or yoga for that matter.

What matters is that you allow yourself the opportunity to get out and engage in something different than your day job or daily routine.

All the better if you have to focus on something that requires some concentration, patience and discipline.

This teaches you the necessary skills to not run around with your hair on fire when something or someone throws a boomerang into your daily routine or life.

There's probably some science somewhere to support this notion – but for me it just seems to be common sense.

There is something to be said for staying cool when everything else is coming apart at the seams.

You know - Tom - you've certainly gotten bent out of shape over who gets to appoint the DNR Secretary.  Looks to us like you're not being very cool, calm and collected.

Listen.  I was just being provocatively pointed in my opinion.  There's a difference you know.

Which leads to my segue into the second reason I bring this up.  

I am eminently qualified to speak to the subject of running around with your hair on fire.

This is the bible truth.

My best guess is that I was probably around eight years of age and my pals from the old neighborhood – Joey, Timmy, Robin and Mickey were doing what kids did back then.

We were taking Revell model battleships and aircraft carriers and hosting mock naval battles in the tributary creek over in the next block that fed the Little Menomonee River.

The whole mess all began with our quest for realism.

We used gasoline and used motor oil to make our sinking of the Bismarck or reenactment of the Battle of Midway as realistic as the imagination of a young boy could.

We would set those ships afire.

Even today - I would be willing to bet that if I showed you the spot - you would find the melted and charred hulks of model warships buried under river silt and sludge.

Anyway - on one particular day our attention was drawn to the burn barrel in Mickey and Robin’s back yard.

It had all manner of combustible debris in it which we promptly set fire-to.

Once the fire went out we located some more stuff - added it to the barrel - and burned that too.

Before too long we ran short of stuff to burn.

Someone suggested we add some of the used motor oil to the barrel.

Gloop, gloop, gloop, gloop gloop.

A match was tossed into the barrel and…


We look into the barrel.

Another match.


By now we all are tossing lit matches into the barrel without the expected results.

That used motor oil simply would not ignite.

Drawing upon our vast knowledge of naval warfare someone suggested we add some gasoline to the oil.

In it went.  A generous amount too.

With all five of us peering over the edge Timmy lights a match and drops it to the bottom of the barrel.


There was the spectacular flash of a fireball followed by belching black clouds of oily smoke.  Ooooh - this was better than the battle of the Coral Sea.

After the excitement and the smoke subsided there lingered in the atmosphere the acrid smell of burnt hair.  We look at one another and realize we have also done a pretty good job of singeing-off a good portion of our crew cuts.  Along with our eyebrows.

We’re all thinking – Oh boy. There is going to be trouble over this.

Speaking for myself I had a brilliant plan.

I scrubbed my face clean of soot and promptly cinched my Milwaukee Braves baseball cap firmly over my head.  Nobody would know what happened to my hair.

Until supper.

Young man. Remover your cap at the dinner table.

I don’t wanna.

Take you hat off.

I don’t wanna.


And with a collective gasp the truth was revealed.

Right then the phone rang and I was spared whatever fate awaited me.  Saved by the bell so to speak.  It was Auntie Pat from next door inquiring if Tommy had burned-off his hair just like Joey.

I have no recollection of any particular punishment for our actions that day.  And my buddies and I all survived the balance of the summer with only a near-drowning incident.

To our parent's collective relief there was no more running around with our hair on fire.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Page Tools