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Wednesday, July 09, 2008
To Kill a Mocking-Melon
In my younger and more vulnerable years a few friends and I blew-up a watermelon. This was back before 9/11 when things like cherry bombs could be acquired during a day trip to a certain place in Washington. On a long-ago Fourth of July, we carved a hole in the side and shoved an m80 down its gooey, melon throat. I can't remember who's idea it was to toss the melon in a basketball hoop before lighting the fuse but the decision was both brilliant and stupid. I can still remember having my face grazed by flying bits of blazing melon. The remaining chunks still stuck in the hoop dripped down onto the court and left a stain. There may still be a mark on the blacktop of a certain Portland middle school. I never went back to check.
Low and behold, the opportunity to blow up another watermelon presented itself this holiday weekend. But, with nary a proper explosive in sight, a group of friends and I had to improvise. A Roman Candle wasn't going to cut it. We settled on a "one-shot" double mortar and added some sparklers to, well, make the watermelon look TOTALLY AWESOME.
Or at least like a half-assed prop from a '50s sci-fi movie.
This melon bomb was doomed to fail and we knew it but we proceeded anyway. After dark, we carried it to an empty lot beside the beach house we were staying in. A reunion of what we thought might have been retired newscasters was staying in a house nearby. They had spent the evening on a deck loudly talking with announcer-type voices and laughing the sort of stilted laughs you hear at the end of the 11 o'clock news. When we went to light the fuse, one of them stuck his head out a window and shouted "GOOD LORD" in a voice worthy of Walter Cronkite in his prime.
Oh, dear reader, if only you could have seen what happened next. The mortar blasted out of the melon, flew across the lot in a flash of red fire and landed a few feet away from me. The news guy ducked back inside and we didn't hear a peep out of him or his cronies for the rest of the weekend.
Ahhh, the thrill of danger and the agony of defeat and a near trip to the emergency room at the Tillamook County General Hospital. Not only had the poorly-secured mortar not done its job, the melon was left mostly unscathed. The explosion only managed to cause a crack down the middle.
Final score by the end of the holiday: watermelon: 1, us and newscasters: 0.
Regardless of the way the news guy acted, maybe these things are better left to reporters (and chemistry teachers). When it comes to quirky fireworks displays, there's some things bloggers just can't pull off, I guess. At least one corner of the brave new world of journalism remains theirs and theirs alone.