It's not just you… we all have our moments

It's not just you… we all have our moments

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MY BROTHER'S ON FIRE! (No, really. He caught on fire.)

Tis the season to be thankful.  Good thing I like my brother so much, or the ending of this story would be a real disappointment to me.  As it goes, he lived.  So here's what happened:

It was 2000, and the whole extreme sports craze was just heating up.  I lived in Huntington Beach at the time, which seemed like the epicenter of non-conformist, white tattooed punk rock kids, eager to give a big "fuck you" to any type of authoritarian.  Johnny Knoxville made being a jackass SOP, and Fred Durst was doin' it all for the nookie.

I lived with a few pro-skateboarders for a stint, and then came the Crusty Demons.  Those crazy sons-of-bitches were fearless, and before I knew it, everything was dirt bike this and dirt bike that.  I got a KX125 and found myself on frequent camping trips to the desert so my poser boyfriend could channel Seth Enslow.

My brother, on the other hand, is a legit rider.  But on one such trip to Ocotillo Wells, he demonstrated some less than legit decision making skills.  Namely mixing alcohol consumption with a game of "watch me make rings of fire in the sand using this gas can and the campfire!"  Invented by my much older boyfriend who should have known better, my impressionable and inebriated brother apparently felt the need to make his mark...

…Which he did.  Physically.  I sat and videotaped the following chain of events:

  • Brian, sans t-shirt, twirling the can of gas through the campfire
  • An illuminous trail of fire dashing across the sand as it ignited the gas around my brother
  • Brian tripping over himself, splashing said gas across his body
  • Flame igniting Brian
  • Brian screaming, and beginning to run
  • My boyfriend tackling him to the ground, extinguishing him.
It took a few minutes to register what exactly just happened before I put the camera down and ran over to find my brother, layers of skin curling off his back and torso, in immediate shock.

No cell reception meant a car-ride that felt like an eternity to the Ranger Station, where I used a pay phone to dial 911, and then my parents.

*Side note: this story is the reason they hate 2am phone calls, because mine went something like this, "Hi mom.  Brian caught on fire.  Here, talk to my boyfriend."

Brian clung to me, shaking, until the first ambulance arrived and peeled him off of me.  The kid went from wanting to die to a euphoric smile the second the first shot of morphine was administered.  After the chopper Medevaced him to San Diego, I looked down at my shirt, covered in his skin, and threw up.

Brian, upon arrival at UCSD Medical Burn Center
He was burned 1/4 of his body, deep tissue 2nd and areas of 3rd degree burns.  He was in the hospital for a month, and released, appropriately, on the Fourth of July.  The above picture is the only surviving evidence of the incident, aside from scars that turn purple whenever he drinks.  He's like a personified Hypercolor t-shirt.

Anyway, I know this story isn't necessarily "funny," per se, but it does serve as a reminder to:

A) Be careful, and

B) Be grateful

Also, "If you can't be a good example, be a fair warning."