I was a friend's house, with another friend, when we decided we needed to barbecue some chicken one summer afternoon. None of us had ever cooked anything on a grill, but it appeared something easily accomplished; after all, we'd seen our parents cook, so anyone could.
Billy decided to be the official fire starter. It was his house, his father's grill and he was the "expert" by proxy, although I doubt his father had any idea what we were up to. We were already on his shit list for filling the new concrete ditch behind their house with pine needles and burning the huge pile.
Ted, and I, watched as he carefully stacked the charcoal, poured some gasoline, allowed it to sit for a few minutes and throw a lit kitchen match on the pile.
I know you're all thinking to yourself: "Gasoline should never be used to start charcoal." This is true, but who were we to question the "expert"? We were just as clueless.
Due to the volatile nature of gasoline, and the little time to allow it to soak into the charcoal, the fire was out in a few minutes, which left only edges showing any signs of becoming hot.
Ted and I weren't paying much attention, but Billy was determined to have the best charcoals ever. So... while we weren't paying attention... he poured more gasoline on the charcoal.
The huge cloud of white fumes caught both Ted's and my attention immediately. Before we could remark about what we were seeing, Billy approached in the cloud, with a box of kitchen matches in his hand.
Before Ted's and my warning could reach Billy, he struck a match.
A huge fireball enveloped Billy and ended as soon as it began.
I know you're thinking "Oh my God. It must have been horrible."
Billy was standing there, dumbfounded, with a shit eating grin on his face. His eyebrows were gone and his hair was singed.
Within seconds, he started laughing, which brought our laughter, too, although ours more from relief.
Close examination revealed smooth skin above his eyes, some redness to his face and substantial curly, singed hairs on his head. Other than that, he wasn't injured and we could only wonder how he escaped without terrible injuries.
The fire was soon out; with the coals still not doing much of anything. This prompted us to change our plans.
As my mind worked, I realized Billy's father would be home for work in a short time, which prompted me to remember something "important" I needed to do immediately. Ted, too, remembered something important, so we left.
Billy never told me whether there were any repercussions for our cooking efforts; and I never asked.
Some things you're never supposed to know.