Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 10-5-12
November 5, 2012
I don't know what it is about boys, but they love to blow things up. When my dad and his brothers were growing up, they found a stick of dynamite in an old abandoned mine and blew up a dead tree on the edge of the small town where they lived. When my son was little, he and his friends would poke firecrackers in ant mounds, light them and watch the obliterated ants rain down on the grass. They'd get an extra bang out of placing those firecrackers under coffee cans and light them, too.
When some of our city friends would lend their sheltered young 'uns to us for a week's worth of rural education, they usually sent them with clear instructions. There were to be no use of firearms, even toy guns. They felt that it promoted violence. Even after I cautioned my little boy that they couldn't play with toy pistols or water guns, I'd usually find an amusing sight out the back window. Those little city kids would pick up some sticks and in no time be running around the back yard playing cowboys and Indians with their pretend weaponry.
My teenage son has been recently exposed to a product akin to dynamite called Tannerite. He assured me that it's perfectly legal and can be purchased without a license. Some munitions aficionado, probably my brother, demonstrated the wonders of this magical substance. In and of itself it is not explosive but when placed inside an item and then shot with a gun, it will detonate. Since that magical moment he has blown up countless water bottles, coke cans and rotten watermelons. His latest and favorite targets are pumpkins. Lucky for him, they are plentiful this time of year. While other moms and kids were carving cutesy or scary faces into the firm orange vegetables, my son and his friends were lining them up and blowing them to smithereens.
Last weekend, he and a buddy, actually one of my daughter's ex-boyfriends, had a great male bonding experience. They drove to the local grocery store and bought a dozen pumpkins, grinning with glee to think of their imminent demise. They'd take a pumpkin, cut the top off and placed a pouch of the white powered Tannerite inside. They found a solitary wooden fence post in an open field behind the house and set a pumpkin atop it. They loaded their .22 rifles and walked back 20 or 30 feet and started firing. Part of the fun of the game was not knowing exactly when the explosion is going to come. Invariably it would take more than a couple of shots for the bullet to find its target. And when it did, the pumpkin would be instantly vaporized.
Times may have changed, but I don’t think Tom Sawyer has anything on my boy.
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The boys would whoop and holler and high-five each other, feeling as much manly pride as a young cave man when he spears his first wooly mammoth. Then they'd start the process all over. After blowing up a few, they decided to video tape the process, which was a good thing, because it didn't take long to blast through their stockpile. So even after all the smoke had cleared, they could relive the event, and then share it with their like-minded buddies via the social media websites.
I got to view the video the next day. And as silly as I initially thought the whole thing was, I had to admit, it was pretty cool to watch. I mean, one second there's a bright orange shiny pumpkin perched on a post — set starkly against a brilliant blue sky — the next second there's a faint boom. And then there's a momentarily puff of orange powder hanging in the air, then nothing. "Isn't that awesome, Mom?" my son asked excitedly as he showed the clip to his father and me. I had to agree.
And to cap off that wondrous day, he and his buddy spent the rest of the evening, until long after midnight trying to rid the county of the overpopulation of raccoons and possums. Oh, to be a boy in rural America! Times may have changed, but I don't think Tom Sawyer has anything on my boy. ❖