Porno For Pyros – Not Porno, Not the Band but the whole twisted story!
When I was young I do not know how my parents did not give me up for sale (joking of course) but when I look back on what I put them through, damn were they patient. My parents should definately be considered saint status, if you believe in that sort of thing. When I say saints I don’t mean in a religious context but more in terms of their objective ability to handle everything that I would throw at them. At the time it all seemed normal to me so it was not as if I was on a mission to cause them grief, it just was what it was.
I moved from Iceland to the United States at a very young age. It was in a time where ADHD was not recognized and treated as overtly as it is today. In some respects I can be thankful that I was not pumped up with stimulants at such young age. Who knows if it would of helped or not, but my mother tells me that she used to bring me to the family doctor and ask him about my constant hyper state, but the family physician said it was normal. As anyone who knows anything about ADHD will tell you that the stimulants have a paradoxical effect in children with the disorder, in effect calming them down and allowing them to focus. Well I had my own paradoxical effect with a medication that was prescribed to me for a passing ailment. I don’t remember this but my mother tells me that when I was prescribed phenobarbital which in most children would knock them out cold, she said that It would have the exact opposite effect, where I in turn would literally be climbing the walls. It is Ironic that when I would go into detox many years later that they would ween me off heavy heroin and benzodiazepine use with the barbiturate phenobarbital and librium so I would not die from a seizure.
The neighbors would always be astonished with me on the backyard picnic table portraying word for word what the nightly news anchors would be saying. They told me that I would do this for hours and hours as if I was in my own little world, going a thousand miles an hour with no end in sight. Everyone thought it amusing at the time, how I could render every word just as it had been on the TV the night before. I wondered why my parents would not let me watch the three stooges at the time, I guess out of the possibility of my recreating some of their dangerous antics. That’s a nice story, now let’s get to the bad.
Just to accent at how much of a terror I was to my parents, when my mother would bring me into a department store I would run and hide under the racks of clothing and not come out no matter what she said. I would never realise at that young age when a joke had gone to long. Another example was when I got a new pair of shoes, it was a big deal then and my parents did not have a lot of money, one time when we were driving through a busy intersection I threw my new shoes out the window into the chaotic intersection. My mother then had to pull over the car and make her way through the dangerous traffic to retrieve my new shoes. I do not remember doing either of these things, and I’m lucky my parents can laugh at it now, but I’m sure it was not so funny then.
Another time my mother was in the house cooking dinner and all of a sudden water starts pouring in through the screens and drenching the house. She looks out the window to find me putting the sprinkler up against the house and turning on the water full blast. It did not end there, mother would always get calls from the neighbor telling her “Do you know your child is doing this?” I had been going around the neighborhood and taking everyone’s mail and redistributing it to all the houses as if I was the mailman. I paid no attention as to which house the particular mail belonged to, I just would redistribute it as I would see fit. One other time she got a call from the neighbor to let her know that I was painting our dark brown house sky blue. I had gone into the basement and opened up a random can of light blue paint, grabbed a brush, went outside and started painting. I remember mother was pretty miffed at this…I had no idea I was doing anything wrong. Some might say how come your mother was not keeping track of you at all times when outside…she really was, it’s just that I moved very fast. You also have to remember at the time that it was not strange for all the kids in the neighborhood to be outside all day without fear of abduction and everyone would come home when the parents called us home for dinner.
Just to show how my mother kept tabs on me, one day when she found out I had gone to the local convenience store where my friends and I would always load up on sweets like Hostess Cakes and Soda. She called me over after seeing that I had gone without asking her and she knew that I had no money. After checking my pockets and finding a handful of Grape Bazooka Bubble Gum, knowing that I had stole it she marched me right back to the store and made me tell the store owner what I had done. Chalk that up to a learning experience…I remember being horribly embarrassed, my parents hoping that the impression would have an effect on me. I remember I got grounded as well, yup not allowed to leave the yard or the house to play with friends, except for school. It turned out that I was grounded almost all the time. My friends would always come to my house with the question ‘Could I come out or was I grounded?’ At times they would take pity on me and let me go out anyway so it wasn’t all bad. I also was not doing the best at school as I was always looking out the window and daydreaming. The teachers would always write home that they thought I had the ability to do well, but I just did not pay attention.
I remember the big thing at the time was riding dirt bikes in the pits and playing with fireworks. Although my parents forbade this, I did it anyway. No one at the time wore helmets even if only riding a bicycle. I don’t remember anyone ever getting hurt doing this even though we were thrown from motorcycles routinely at high speeds, many times after hitting jumps. All there would be was some cuts and scrapes. At the time we would all ride around the neighborhood in the back of pickup trucks, thinking nothing of it, and the police did not care either as it was not illegal then. Looking back on it I’m surprised that no one was seriously hurt or killed, I guess we were lucky if you believe in that sort of thing.
As I mentioned another big thrill that was popular at the time was fireworks, as there always seemed to be someone selling them in my neighborhood. My parents would not let me even play around with fake guns at the time. Anyway we would all have copper pipes and have bottle rocket fights while we would be playing war. Roman candles would be used as bazookas shooting each other with balls of fire that would stick to ones clothing and burn a hole in the material. Going home meant hiding the burn marks left in our clothing and flesh. There was one time that I lit a pack of Black Cat Firecrackers and the wick burned so fast that they blew up in my hand. It was like an outer body experience, the blast shook me up so hard that I kept looking at my hand as if to wonder weather my hand was still connected to my body. I remember my hand throbbing in pain and after I doused it with cold water from a hose, my hand was shaking so violently I began to worry that I may have done some permanent damage. I did not and it only ramped up my fascination with fire and all it’s useful and destructive properties.
It was at this time that I went through my pyromaniac phase. One day we were in the small wooded area on the hill behind one of my friends’ house and we would start small fires with a focussed magnifying glass. We would enthusiastically burn whatever we could get our hands on from twigs and leaves to plastic and paper. Well after a while the fire got too big and we lost control of it as it went under a high fence into another yard. After trying a while to put it out, we realised it was out of control so we hid out in another yard. Well the fire department came and put the fire out and we turned ourselves in. Luckily they just chewed us out and let us go. Another time I was playing with matches in a field of brush and set fire to a small patch of grass at some point a neighbor came out with a fire extinguisher and put it out. This was where my pyromaniac phase ended, there was no further I could take it, and I realized that if I kept on going I would eventually burn down a house and possibly injure or kill someone. It was then I realised that I could have a healthy respect for fire while still being amazed with it’s properties. I wasn’t the only one going through this phase, there were always brush fires in the woods by the ballfields and as it was not me, there where some individuals who were for sure even more whacked out than I was. Again luckily no houses were ever burned down or people were injured.
Speaking of strange individuals, there was the ice cream man who was an imposing guy, I remember he had one of his front teeth in pure gold. Anyway my mother would often get angry at him because he would always come through the neighborhood with music blasting just as the kids would go down for a nap. Even worse he earned the name “Jimmy The Jipper” as a result of ripping off us young kids by giving us the wrong change back for what we bought. I remember all the mothers would come out and scold him after what would be a blatant rip off. He never stopped coming around though and he became an urban legend in our neighborhood. He was a slick character not unlike a slithering snake in the grass. You could just feel he was trying to play everyone, it was just the vibe that he gave off.
Some of the other obnoxious things I would do, and I say this with certainty that my neighbors thought I was a good kid just hyper, one time while I was chasing a kid around a backyard with my new Swiss Army Knife, he fell and I fell on him stabbing him in the side. It was not deep, and it was a mistake, but that was the end of my new knife. It was taken away until I got older and could handle it responsibly. Thinking back it was just as well and a good move, therefore I would not end up doing some real damage by mistake. Another thing I remember is there was a kid who used to pick on me because he was a lot older and bigger than me, there was no real specific reason I could remember for him doing so. The thing is I got bigger over time as well, and at some point he gave me trouble and I felt confident I could now stand my ground and exact some revenge. I landed a few punches and he started to run into my backyard. I remember all the neighborhood kids egging me on to beat him good, it felt like something right out of a Peanuts Cartoon gone wrong…taking out the neighborhood bully. I stopped smacking him around when he started to cry, I actually felt pity for him.
Another thing I loved to do was scare the crap out of people, I would wear my Gene Simmons demon mask…I so wanted to be Gene Simmons, as I have always been a big Kiss fan, and I would spit fake blood by chewing that red hots candy and let it roll like drool down the front of my mask it used to freak the other kids out. Today it would not scare anyone hehe. My mother would not even let me be The Demon Gene Simmons for Halloween. Who wanted to be a pirate or a ghost, I wanted to be Gene Fucking Simmons. Don’t let all this give you a bad impression of my mother…she was and is an awesome person, just concerned and rightly so. I consider myself very lucky to have such awesome parents, who cared about my welfare and did not just let me do anything I wanted to get me out of their hair. They always did what they thought best to keep me a good person and they would never give up on me. I think thats really what most kids want once they grow up and look back, parents that actually cared.
The next two events I’ll talk about here were horrific and life changing…they’re the sort of thing which forces a child to grow up way too fast. The first happened after we boarded the daily bus from school to go home. Whenever we first got on the bus we would all slide open all the windows to clear out the heat and circulate some fresh air. As the bus would drive off we would all hang our arms outside the bus to corral a fresh breeze directly into our faces with the sun beating down on our faces.
About halfway through the trip there was some screaming at the back of the bus and kids were running toward the front to get the bus driver’s attention. One of the upper class-men was slumped down in the the last back seat, we realized after a minute or so of chaos that his arm had gotten caught on one of the spikes coming off a telephone pole and it had ripped his lower arm sheer off at the elbow and he was bleeding out. The bus driver ran back to the front of the bus and radioed back to dispatch to send an ambulance as fast as possible as this kid was dying. The bus driver then wrapped his damaged arm up in a tournequet and carried him outside by the front door and within minutes the ambulance arrived. If this happened today they would make everyone get off the bus and wait for another one to finish out the route. Not then, they moved everyone to the front of the bus and when the ambulance left we continued on our way in the same bus full of blood. I remember looking back at the rear seats and they were made of indented plexiglass like material, the blood was two or three inches thick left to coagulate in the bucketed impressions. I could smell the Iron from the blood that was splashed everywhere, toxic waste dump, ya think! I will never forget that they let us finish the route in the same frickin’ bus. WOW! Oh but it gets worse…ahhh but of course.
The second incident occured a year or two later at a group of soccer (futbol) fields in the center of the city. As there were several games going on at once, my team was waiting on the bleachers for the game to finish so that we could take the field and play our game. I vividly remember leaning back over two or three bleachers and looking up daydreaming into the clear blue sky. The next thing I remember is seeing two planes coming from opposite directions in the sky flying much lower than usual. I remember seeing them try to manouver around each other but for some reason they both cut in the same direction and a few seconds later they slammed head on into each other and there was the biggest explosion I had ever seen, we could feel the blast on the ground there was so much force. The first horrific thing I remember was something right out of the movie independence day. What looked like a burning plane engine in flames slammed into the roof of a row house of apartments. Then right after shrapnel and body parts on fire rained down onto the players on the field. I mean really was this some kind of sadistic dream, no this was really happening. A headless torso landed in flames in the middle of the field, the kids were all running every which direction as arms and legs rained down on us. It was so truly horrific, that the images are burned right into an area in my brain. The next day the paper said how lucky we were that no one was hurt on the ground. That engine that I saw land on the roof of the row houses landed in someone’s kitchen. Supposedly it was two small planes that had crashed into each other and all seven of the total passengers were instantly killed.
We had witnessed a horror movie right before our eyes…I expect that the innocence of many of the kids on and around the field was whisked away in a moments notice. How do people get over something like this, I remember that it was as if it had never happened after a few days. Everybody just has to move on…I have the suspicion that some never were able to move on. No one talked about mental health back then. Today we’re still talking about mental health whenever a horrific incident happens, but nothing ever gets done. Oh well I’m not here to rant but all these empty sentiments are too easy a target. Keep calm and carry on.
Parting Words: Bye the way does this crazy shit happen to everyone, or just me???
“Ground Control To Major Tom, Take Your Protein Pills And Put Your Helmet On…
This Is Major Tom To Ground Control, I’m Stepping Through The Door,
And I’m Floating In The Most Peculiar Way…
For Here, Am I Sitting In A Tin Can, Far Above The World…
Planet Earth Is Blue And There’s Nothing I Can Do…
Can You Here Me Major Tom? Can You Here Me Major Tom?”
Lyrics: Bowie, David
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