6. Held a tarantula (how about torching one with a roman candle? I was a wild child)
In an email exchange with Jimmy, the Head Haberdasher over at Sticky Doorknobs, I tried to explain the history of this revelation.
The year was probably 1965 or '66. It was a hot summer night on the 4th of July. Our family had driven to Robert Lee, Texas to visit our "country cousins". (Here is a story I wrote last year upon the death of this beloved uncle.)
My younger brother and my cousin, Randy, were enraptured with fireworks, especially Black Cat firecrackers which they used like mini grenades upon unsuspecting victims. Oh such fun to toss one close to my feet and watch me run and scream like the famed headless chicken. The boys were and remain "Turdheads" ere these long forty years passed.
To celebrate Independence Day in style, my dad had just about bought out the local fireworks stand and we had more gunpowder than Texicans at the Alamo. My phobia of fireworks only allowed me to partake of sparklers and very gingerly held roman candles. (Anyone care to enlighten me with the history of their name? ) Always fearful that one of those balls of colored fire would blast into reverse and singe my long blonde hair to a memory.
West Texas has its share of interesting critters, but some are just plain ol' scary. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, lizards and this charming arachnid, the Aphonopelma hentz, better known as a Texas Brown Tarantula:
In the late summer and early fall, in the cool of the evening you can often see male tarantulas crossing the road in larges groups, desperately seeking Susie Tarantula. A rather unsettling sight, and not an experience you forget easily.
Whether the particular arachnid in question was running late for a hot date on this particular 4th of July, we'll never know - he met a rather untimely demise courtesy of my roman candle-turned-flame-thrower.
I was already jumpy, darkness was just turning the eastern sky an inky blue and to lessen the taunts and teasing, I had decided to participate with at least one roman candle. The first red fireball came whumping out of that flimsy cardboard tube, lighting up an area around me about three feet. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement; a Texas Brown tarantula came scuttling out of the roadside Johnson grass and was headed straight toward my sandal-shod feet.
I gave no second thought to my plan of defense; that roman candle would be put to good use! Violating every warning on the wrappers of roman candles, I tilted it down towards the advancing hairy demon faster than a Jedi warrior can wield a Light Saver.
Puh, puh, puh, POW! A giant blue blaze engulfed the spider who was already most likely running in fear from all the ricocheting noise of the fireworks. Like a flaming Jason Voorhees, the poor thing blindly continued to crawl. If you think a plain tarantula is intimidating, try watching a fiery one crab-walk its way towards you. Ugh.
My begging the boys to stomp it fell on deaf ears - this was perfect fodder for their amusement and they added their own candle bombing to the poor thing. Finally, my cousin finished the tarantula with a well placed Converse tennis shoe.
And that was the end of my roman candle days. Those were the days, my friend.