I always wanted a tree-house. I don’t know why, maybe it was the idea of having a sanctuary, somewhere I could call my own. I never got a tree-house, I had friends who had tree-houses, but I never had one. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t like one of my life’s great regrets. I’m not a broken person because I didn’t have a tree-house. Ultimately I don’t think it’s really affected my life one way or the other. But they just seemed so cool.
I had 2 friends who lived down the street. They each lived like 2 houses over, which on my street was like 300 metres away. Oddly enough considering they lived so close I really only remember playing with them in the summer. I’m sure we must have seen each other in the winter, played hockey together at one of the local outdoor rinks or something. But all my memories seem to be from the summer.
Anyway back to tree-houses. One of my friends had a tree-house in his back yard. It wasn’t elaborate or anything, little more and a plank of plywood nailed to a couple of branches, but it was somewhat hidden. So of course this is where we lit shit on fire. When you’re 8, 9, 10 fire is fascinating. At least for boys. Fire, explosions, and guns. That’s pretty much all we needed to entertain ourselves when we were kids. This was when video games were just becoming the big thing. There was basically only the Nintendo and Atari on the market. So as much fun as it was to play Contra on the Nintendo it was way more fun the blow up our G.I. Joes with firecrackers and light their vehicles on fire.
The problem with this of course was getting our hands on flammable materials, fuels, lighters our matches and of course explosives. We did what ever we could. You’d find lighter fluid in our garages, maybe pour a bit of gas out of the jerry can meant for the lawnmower. Secretly steal the lighter our moms would keep with the birthday candles. Stealing firecrackers that my brother bought in New York and kept under his bed (Sorry Josh). During the summer we were a bunch of pyromaniacs.
So one day I’m in my friend’s tree-house with him and we’re lighting shit on fire. I don’t remember what it was exactly, probably some cheap plastic car or something. We just liked the smell of melting plastic and watching the destruction. Then as this vehicle is meeting it’s fiery doom we hear his mom’s voice, with her posh English accent, calling his name. She’s heading across the lawn towards us. Shit! We need to put out this fire and get rid of the evidence. We managed to get the flames out and push the smoking carcass of the jeep behind us as he talks to his mom. That was too close. We decide fire is done for the day, at least until we can find somewhere safe to blow up our toys. So the geniuses that we were we decide to hide the gas, and lighter, and melted jeep in his garage. But not well. i think we put it behind as sheet of metal or something. The exact sheet of metal his dad was going to need at some point that day.
Sure enough, about an hour later his mom is knocking on the door of my house. Furious. she tells my mom what she found. Of course my friend gets dragged home. I get questioned about whether or not I knew anything about this, of course I had no idea what she was talking about, and sent on my way. Time to take my bike to the pool and get as far from the scene of the crime as possible.
I still feel bad sometimes that I didn’t own up to it and take the fall with my buddy. But he was already caught. What would be the purpose of us both going down? I’m pretty sure his mom didn’t think too highly of me after that. “Of course it was all that Radu kid’s fault, he influenced my son to commit terrible evils and atrocities.” No you’re son was just as willing as I was and required no prodding from me. Boys like fire, explosions and guns. That’s just the way it is. In retrospect it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have a tree-house. I’m pretty sure I would have burned that fucker to the ground in a week.