When Matthew was 14 months old we were getting ready to go somewhere and I wanted him to let me put on his shoes. He had other ideas and decided to make “putting on our shoes” a battle. A battle I would win. Surely a toddler was no match for mommy and if I wanted those shoes to go on, they were going on. I wriggled one foot in and was working on the next when, BAM! Matthew, who had been sitting between my legs while we wrestled with the shoes, stood up fast and since I had been looking down, his head clocked me right in the eye. I managed to get to the bathroom to remove my contact lens and by the time I got it out, the lump over my eye was the size of a grape. Over the next day it swelled shut completely. Matthew: 1 Mommy: 0.
A couple days later my eye was still swollen shut and had started turning deep shades of blue and purple. I was forced to wear my glasses so I could see. I decided Matthew and I would stay home that day. I was tired of getting all the “honey I hope you feel safe in your home glances” and it was really hot out anyway. It was mid September and we hadn’t had any rain in a long time. Our grass was dead and we lived in a neighborhood where there weren’t a lot of sprinkler systems. Pretty much everyone on our street had let his or her yard go dormant so we didn’t really look all that ghetto. There were huge spider webs covering all the shrubs and bushes and I remember wishing it would get colder so I could stop sweating all the time.
It was cool in the basement so Matthew and I hung out and played down there until it was time to have lunch. We came upstairs and as I glanced out the window at my front yard, (using my ONE GOOD EYE), I noticed something very odd. You know how, when you’re camping and roasting marshmallows and you look away for one second and your marshmallow catches fire and bursts into flames and you have to pull all the burnt black shit off so you can at least eat the gooey marshmallow inside? Well some kind of burnt black shit was covering my entire yard. As were numerous policemen, firemen, and random Mid American Energy employees. The fire truck was parked at the curb and a police car was in my driveway.
(I WAS SO CONFUSED, SO CONFUSED, SO CONFUSED, SO CONFUSED, SO CONFUSED).
It seriously took me a while to process what had happened. Actually, I couldn’t process because I simply didn’t have enough information to figure out what the hell was going on. Which is probably why I slung Matthew onto my hip, unlocked the front door, and marched out onto the sidewalk screaming “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”
Everyone turned to stare. I had not showered. My hair was a mess and was probably up in one of those butterfly clips I am so fond of. I was in a ratty t-shirt and shorts and was barefoot. I think I had a bra on (God I hope I did, I can’t remember), and I had that big whopper of a black eye. I was screaming like SUPER BITCH at the top of my lungs while holding a squirming toddler. I was a lit cigarette and an ankle tattoo away from White Trash Housewife.
No one moved or spoke. Clearly they did not know what to do with me and had not expected me to come charging out of the house. Apparently they had banged on my front door repeatedly but since we were in the basement, I didn’t hear them.
The transformer that was mounted on a big light pole close to the house had EXPLODED (didn’t hear that either), showering our dormant yard with an array of sparks which caused the dead grass to combust pretty much immediately.
So while I was downstairs in the basement with Matthew playing “show mommy where your nose is” the fire was spreading from corner to corner of the front yard. A passing jogger grabbed our garden house and started spraying the flames that were threatening to start the house and fence on fire. When the firemen arrived they doused everything and were now conferring with the Mid American Energy people (and giving them a good “talking to” about their shitty transformers, I hope).
I managed to calm down after a while and pretty soon everyone left. A MidAmerican Energy employee gave me a business card, which was good because I figured Dave and I would have some things we might need to discuss with them, like the replacement of our two trees that were now burned to a crisp. I went inside to call Dave because he was just not going to believe the shit that happens while he is at work.
For weeks afterward we would run into random people in our neighborhood that would ask asinine questions like, “hey did you guys do that on purpose?” Yes, yes we did. We chose to voluntarily torch our grass. Next spring we’re planning on letting the back yard go fallow so we can plant poppies in the front yard and grow our own opium.
What, are we suburban sharecroppers now? We lived in the city limits of Urbandale where I’m pretty sure they discouraged and prohibited this kind of tomfoolery.
Anyway, MidAmerican paid to have our lawn aerated and they replaced our two trees so no hard feelings there. And when the grass grew back the following spring? You’d never know we’d had a little fire.