Church on Fire

I so admired you both for the wonderful friendships that you had. Even for me, 11 & 9 years your junior, I loved that you had friends that felt that 25 Alston Avenue was a welcoming place. And while I was far removed from your social activities, there were brief episodes when I could revel in the joy of that camaraderie, while still being very junior in your company.

Was there a better place for spending time with friends than our kitchen? Maybe. But of the night that I am thinking, it was the kitchen that was the “stage” on which an epic event occurred – and to which I now relate (to the best of my ability… remembering, that I was quite “junior”).

I assume the day was a weekend. A weekend night. Other than you, the only person who I can remember that was there: Jeff Gordon. Although I am sure others were involved. Judy Poverman? “Hangin’ out” was an expression that was not in vogue then, but it describes what you were doing. If memory serves, folks were standing around, and maybe one or two of you were perched up on the counters that framed the kitchen space. Why was Jeff Gordon stretched out on to the floor, I can’t say. Not enough room on the counters? No comfortable place to lean up against? Maybe just looking to take a load off his feet?

Regardless. There he was, a step or two before the refrigerator. Hands comfortably clasped below his head and sharing in with the conversation.

Enter Dad. He surveyed the scene of young people in the kitchen. And then made his way to the fridge looking to have a cold beverage to relieve a thirst. He steps over Jeff… and it is my assumption that he in no way wished to distract from the conversation at hand… but he definitely was aware that Jeff was an impediment to accessing his route to the fridge.

Notwithstanding, Dad takes a seltzer bottle from the fridge, and I am confident that his original intent was to drink a good sized glass of seltzer, and then he paused. Why?

Why? Well… let’s just say it was “Dad being Dad.”

He paused, he sniffed the air. And then announced, “I think I smell a church on fire!” And with this, he shot a healthy stream of seltzer into Jeff’s snoot.” Jeff, innocent Jeff, unsuspecting Jeff, defenseless Jeff, Jeff lying on the floor with hands clasped behind his head.

As a result, Dad had “unleashed the beast”, and I think a more typical “teenaged water fight” ensued. It may have spread to other rooms in the house. But for sure, shrieks and laughter abounded & 25 Alston Avenue suffered no serious damage.

Ultimately, cooler minds prevailed. Perhaps sadly.

Over the years, there have been occasions when the “Church on Fire” story has been illuminated in our shared stories. Or, invoked as a possible activity… as in: “Shall we do puzzles tonight, or play Church on Fire?”

How could we not feel the warmth from that weekend night? There is nothing that surpasses a beautiful memory that produced such joy, laughter & mayhem.

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