New Year's Eve, 1979. I was but a mere whippersnapper a couple of out of high school, young and stupid (I'm not young anymore! Jury’s still out on the stupid though.) A bunch of my buddies and I chose to spend the big holiday evening camping. Since we were mostly under the legal drinking age, this made perfect sense at the time. A nice quiet, out of the way spot to have a raging campfire and drink ourselves stupid. Stupider.
Several cases of crappy beer and a large bottle of tequila later, the merriment was starting to draw to a close. Having rescued one friend from a small ravine he couldn't climb back out of after stumbling into, and surviving the ripped off side-view mirror of someone's car, we decide to bed down for the evening. A lovely night it was, clear and crisp, the stars twinkling, or perhaps that was just my eyeballs happily unable to focus.
Since our event planning sadly lacked anything tentlike, we settled for sleeping bags and the nice firm earth to cradle us off to dreamland. Eight stinking drunks, in various stages of alcohol induced coma, sprawled around the smoldering remains of our campfire.
I remember that night quite vividly. The night got cold although most of us didn’t notice. I woke up, or came to, at some point in the wee hours of the morning. I remember thinking to myself, "My feet are nice and warm, how very nice and snuggly I feel." Then a few ticks of the clock go by. "Wait a moment" I say to myself, "My feet aren't warm, they're downright hot." The clock silently ticks a few more times. I finally look down at my nether half.
And I am on FIRE!
The bottom half of my sleeping bag is blazing away merrily, crackling and chuckling to itself. I remember leaping into the air like a salmon trying to go up a waterfall. My entire body flexing to thrust me into the air, at which time I perform a wonderfully balletic movement pulling the flaming bag completely off of my body before touching down. Once back on earth I peel the socks off of my feet, watching as they shrivel and melt.
I examine my base appendages, and they appear to have sustained no serious injury barring a bit of pinkness to the color. I grab a new bag, and make haste to a point where the killer campfire cannot see me before bedding down once again, still in shock but also feeling the effects of alcohol and too tired to care just then.
What of my friends, you ask? Only one did stir during my near death experience, and he only awoke and looked up long enough to say "Cool" in an approving voice before flopping back down to sleep.
I hate my friends.
Bio: Jonathon Newberry lives with his wife and three children in Rhode Island. He is an investment banker at a large firm, which he won’t name here. He has long given up drinking, and camping, and most of his friends.
Thank you Jonathon, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Adara Bernstein and Story of My Life