And Then There Was The Time I Was Witness To Spontaneous Combustion, But That Was After I’d Ruined The New Carpet

 My baby girl and her husband have finally bought their first home.  It took them eight long years, but come August 3rd , they’ll be homeowners.

August 5th, they’ve organized an army of friends and family to descend upon the house and paint every room.  After years of being a rental property, let’s just say it really, really needs some TLC in the paint department.

My hubby and I are part of the army, so this naturally brought up discussions of our first time.

Not that first time.

Our first time painting a room.

My hubby, who as a child learned to paint from his construction-worker grandfather, talked about the beautiful finishes, the satin sheen on the walls and the small amount of clean-up involved – which in those days was a big deal because paint was often oil-based and damn-near impossible to clean off without industrial-grade solvents.

I talked about the fire.

All eyes turned to me in surprise when I said paint and fire in the same sentence.


I was 14 and my bestie was the same age.  She and her little brother and mom had moved into our townhome complex the previous fall and by springtime her mother had promised she could paint a  red and black checkerboard pattern on her wall…after the white carpet was installed.

What was the woman thinking?

Naturally my bestie enlisted my help and when I arrived that morning I found the checkerboard pattern had been neatly penciled all along one wall and all the furniture neatly stacked and covered on the other.

I took off my shoes, but in retrospect leaving my socks on was probably a bad idea.

Bestie poured black paint in one tray and red in the other.  I took the red and proceeded to paint squares marked with an “R” in the middle, and bestie painted the ones marked “B” with her black paint.

After a little while we decided to stop and get something to eat.  We set our trays on the floor and I stepped back to admire the work…right into a tray of red paint.

Hopping around on one foot only made the paint splatter so part of the room looked like a crime scene in a matter of minutes.

Covering up the walls was no biggie since we were painting anyway, but the carpet…

Red paint on white carpet.

Yeah, no amount of Resolve is gonna get that shit out.

In the end, we wound up strategically placing her bed at an odd angle in the center-ish part of the room and telling her mom that’s the way she wanted it.

Thank heavens her mother bought that story, and apparently never cleaned under the bed.

When we were done the checkerboard pattern looked pretty cool to a teenager, and we dutifully cleaned up all the paint brushes and disposed of the paint cans..and when I say we disposed of the paint cans I mean we put them on the back porch and covered them with the canvas drop cloth we’d been using  to protect the carpet – unsuccessfully as it turns out.

About a week later I went back to bestie’s house and immediately upon entering the front door I noticed a smoky haze. 

At first, I thought it was the pasta she was making for her baby brother, but closer inspection revealed the drop cloth on the back porch was on fire for no apparent reason.

An hour later and I’d had my first lesson on spontaneous combustion from a hunky firefighter in full gear.

That was just one of many adventures that she and I had and managed to keep from her mother and mine none involving fire…at least not that I remember…

Posted on July 31, 2012, in Guess You Had to Be There, Random Crap, Stupid Human Tricks and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. You have some of the best stories 🙂

  2. Ohhhh! I wish I’d known you when we were kids! My husband’s sister actually did the splatter thing with real blood. When she was little she cut her hand on something and started screaming and flailing her arms around. Before they were able to stop her she’d sprayed blood all over the kitchen!

    • First – me too! I was one crazy child, but honestly things either just happened like this or I just happened to be around when things happened and very rarely was there real danger or injury.

      Second – ewwwwwww…I’d NEVER eat in that kitchen again..ever.

  3. Sounds like you caught it in time before the entire place came down. We were not so lucky. In April we were cleaning up the apartment next door and decided to put some linseed oil on the wooden floors. It all went perfectly except that afterwards I leaned the applicator up against a wall on the indoor porch. Just an innocent little brush on a stick. Well, I did not go back there until two days later, because the smoke detectors were going off and I could hear them from my apartment. Too late, the whole thing burned down – we had to move. I know what a kill-joy. If it’s any consolation we were getting tired of living there… The fire department seemed to think that the brush spontaneously combusted on it’s own,thus causing the fire. I will never touch the stuff again. 🙂

    • Omigosh!! That’s terrible! I’m glad no one was hurt, though.

      • For some weird reason I still had 300K of Personal Liability on my renter’s insurance for that apartment that is paying out so far… Hopefully it will cover the damages. So that was good. No one was hurt or harmed, which is also good.. 🙂


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