2007.04.11 Explosion in my pants

Written by David Green.


It all started with a missing Easter basket. No, it was earlier than that.

It all started with a missing blink on a smoke detector. Yes, that’s where it begins.

I was standing in the dark looking up at the smoke detector at the top of the stairs.  I was waiting for the blink of the red light that would let me know it was still functioning and would alert us the next time we severely burn some toast.

There was no blink. I could have pushed the test button, but it’s unreachable without a chair to stand on. It was late at night and I wasn’t about to stand on a chair at the top of the stairs in the dark.

So I filed that information away for Easter morning.

That’s when Maddie mentioned that her Easter basket was apparently not hidden. Her first clue was that the candy she bought for herself was still in plain sight on the table. She was right. I never even thought about it.

The oldest kid in a family will quickly tell you how the youngest gets everything. The eldest lived a spartan, disciplined life; the youngest has it easy and has it all.

That’s not entirely true. With two kids off to a job and college and the youngest a senior in high school, the Easter Bunny doesn’t always come knocking.

Maddie did her part. She bought her own candy. What was she supposed to do–fill the basket and hide it for herself?

So after a few minutes, I got up and fetched a basket from across the room. It wasn’t her Easter basket. I don’t think the Bunny ever told me where that one was kept, but this would certainly do.

I started removing the stuff inside and got down to a collection of batteries at the bottom. One was a 9-volt model that fits in a smoke detector. What good fortune. I slipped it into my pocket.

I filled the basket with the candy and a few other strange items and quietly went into what’s still known as the playroom to hide the thing. This was new territory. Easter baskets have always been hidden in the living/dining room. The playroom—now heavily used as a storage room—should prove challenging.

I told my wife the deed was done, but she had a couple of prunes to add. It’s an old family joke from back when the Easter Bunny left prunes stuffed with almonds instead of candy. The eldest child is right—he led a spartan, disciplined life.

Now we fast-forward a couple of hours to the smell in the kitchen. I was pretty sure what was going on. A few weeks ago it sounded as though a bird was caught in the vent of the range hood. I tried to do something about it then, but didn’t see a way in without tearing it apart.

I waited for Colleen to enter the shower and then I went at it. Off came the outer filter. Off came the fan/motor assembly. And then what? A metal flap opened only so far and I was sure that’s where the body lay.

The remains were removed and I went back to work, typing in some stories for this week’s paper.

Suddenly, there was an explosion inside my pants. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was a like a balloon popped in my right pocket. I could feel the impact.

After a moment of sitting there stunned, I reached in and withdrew the items. My lip salve was charred and the cap cracked. The inside of the battery was exposed after the bottom blew off. One of the chambers had exploded. Inside my pants.

It was extra unsettling because that’s exactly where I was sitting the day my left index finger suddenly turned red and went a little numb for a few days. It remained colder than my other fingers all winter.

I turned my pants pocket inside out over the waste basket and went into the bathroom to wash my hands. That’s when I noticed that darn hair brush still sitting on the counter.

When Colleen and Maddie headed out for their college visiting recently, I spotted a hair brush on the back porch. It had a strong plastic smell and I figured that’s why it was out there—to let it air out.

I was pleased to find it since Colleen took hers with her. I used it while they were gone and mentioned it to her on the phone one day.

“Oh, that’s the one we used on the cat.”

That’s how things have been going. Lately, it’s more than just my pants exploding.

    – April 11, 2007 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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