A few days ago our neighbor’s car caught on fire. I found out about it because Jon almost tore the door off its hinges as he burst into the house to tell me. I had just finished taking a shower when the whole house shook, not from the explosion under the hood of the neighbor’s car but from the nuclear glee with which Jon delivered the message. CAR. FIRE. BOOM. FLAAAAAAMES! Those were the only words I could make out, anyway, what with the wild hand gestures and sound effects. Uncomfortably accurate sound effects.
Several other neighbors gathered on the sidewalk outside our house to watch the carnage. Two of them had already called 911 and a fire truck was blocking off the top half of the street, siren blaring and inciting every dog on the block to howl at the moon. By the time I got outside the flames were gone but I didn’t miss anything because the three-year-old boy who lives across the street gave me and everyone else a detailed account of events starting with, “Excuse me! Excuse me! Guys? You listening? Okay…”
According to the oral account of things the car spontaneously caught fire and burned for almost five minutes before the fire truck showed up. Flames shot up probably six feet in the air. At least, that’s my adult interpretation of what he said, an interpretation that pulls out the important words and infers an estimated timeline from the foot-stomping and hand signals and adorable three-year-old rendition of a siren. I knew he meant flames when he raised his arms above his head to form a point and went, “Faahhrooooshhh!” Boys. They may get older, a little taller, a tad bit more gray. But thank God they don’t ever grow up.