Monday, April 18, 2011

The Flaming Red Shirt

Ever since I was able to dress myself, I've liked to wear my favorite clothes on my birthday.

The year I turned sixteen, my favorite shirt was a soft red faux turtleneck, made of rayon or acrylic or some other man-made fabric that can be really soft. The softness was my favorite part - that and it looked good on me, despite being a color I didn't usually wear. I'd only had it for a couple of weeks, so the exciting newness of it had yet to wear off.

I went to school and actually had a marvellous day - a hard thing to achieve in high school. I don't remember what we had for my birthday dinner, but Mom has always been awesome about trying to feed us exactly what we want for our birthdays. Even when we had meager means, she found a way to give us steak for my sister's birthday dinner.

For dessert, I had requested cream puffs, not exactly the easiest dessert in the world. But I had only recently discovered them, and it was a rare delicacy to me. Mom didn't even bat an eye, but made them and had a whole plateful ready after dinner.

I sat at the end of the table, with my cream puff in a bowl, happy as a squirrel in a peanut factory. It was delicious. It was delectable. It was the best thing I'd tasted since the last time I'd had cream puffs (which was about six months prior to my birthday).

After I'd had a couple of bites, Mom exlaimed, "I forgot to put a candle on yours! Just a minute! Stop eating!"

As I said, the cream puff was amazing, but I was willing to stop eating if it would make my dessert last. Our dining room table was an oval shape, and I sat at one end of the oval. Mom came rushing back in and stuck a candle in what remained of my cream puff, then proceeded to light a match.

The first one broke. So did the second one, and possibly the third.

"Well, this is riduculous." Mom fought furiously with the next match, determined that it would light, and struck it hard against the matchbook.

As if in slow motion, we watched as the match that finally lit gathered life of its own, propelling itself out of my mom's left hand, arcing over my cream puff and landing right on my favorite red shirt.

There was never such commotion all at once in that house. My sisters yelled, my mom, yelled, I yelled. I smacked my shirt repeatedly, trying to put out the vicious arsonist match. At that point, I remember thinking how my shirt was made of something man-made, whatever it was, and that it was possibly very flammable. I had a brief vision of my entire shirt bursting into flame. Mom reached to put the flames out too, but I had them out before she could hardly move.


I looked down at the hole in my shirt. It was barely large enough to stick a finger through, about the size of a cigarette burn with crispy brown edges.

My mom just threw a match at me and set me on fire, I thought.

I started laughing - because really, what else do you do in that situation? It was instantly hilarious in my mind. My mom's mind works a bit differently than mine, though - she immediately started crying and apologizing.

"It's okay, Mom, really," I said through the laughter, smiling all the while.

"But it's your favorite shirt!" Mom bawled.

It was just a shirt, though. I really didn't mind. After all, there was still a glorious cream puff in front of me, which I ate with even more enjoyment. I changed (after begging Mom to let me wear my burned shirt) and headed to youth group.

When I got back, Mom had gone out and gotten me another red shirt. An exact replica of my favorite one (except without a burn hole in the front). I ended up using the old one for my Scarlet Letter project in English class.

Even if she occasionally throws matches at me, she's still the best mom ever.

1 comment:

  1. I laughed and cried at this.......again. Wow what a memory you will have to share with your children. I told you your family will be of constant writing matter for you. I love you.


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