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A burning desire

April 29, 2013  By Ian Robinson

So I’m thinking about burning down my house.

Got everything I need in the garden shed to pull this off. Jerrican of gasoline and some old road flares ought to do the trick.

Oh, don’t get all judgmental on me and start thinking about calling the cops. Like you’ve never looked around your abode and thought: “Hey! You know what would improve this place enormously? A major, non-injury fire, that’s what.”

For some of us, that moment comes when we’re just too damned lazy to vacuum.


That moment when you notice that the cat is having a hard time walking through the living room because its feet are getting stuck to the rug.

And you’re worried that sooner or later, the rug is going to eat the cat.


So you think: Do I really need a cat?

Then: Well, I could keep the cat if I vacuumed.

Or I could burn down the house.

Hmmm. That seems extreme. But I really, really hate vacuuming.

Hold on. Since when do we have a cat? I hate cats.

Or, it’s that moment when you realize that your in-laws are coming over and you’re going to have to listen to your father-in-law talk about how the damned socialists are ruining the damned country.

And by the way, did I know the damned socialists in the damned government were so incompetent, his old-age pension cheque was late two months in a row?

And you just know you’re not going to be able to bite your tongue. So you’re probably going to say, “Isn’t social security for the elderly a socialist idea?”

And you’re going to limp for three days afterwards because your wife is going to kick you in the ankle.


And there’s going to be a terrible fight of the why-do-you-hate-my-parents variety.

And you’re going to make a counter-argument of the because-they’re-total-jerks variety.

Next thing you know, you’re going to be reminded of why the leather couch in the basement where you’re now sleeping is in the basement in the first place.

Hint: Because it’s got more lumps than your mother-in-law’s gravy. Although you’re going to keep that cute little observation to yourself because, hey, you’re already sleeping on the damned couch and you don’t particularly want to turn it into a permanent thing.

But jeez.

That gravy is terrible.

But you know what would prevent your in-laws from coming over to your house?

If it was completely engulfed in flames, that’s what.

My in-laws weren’t actually that bad. Getting along with them got easier after I grew my hair a little longer so it hid my iPod buds. That way I could listen to music and when I nodded my head in time to the tunes, my father-in-law thought I was actually agreeing with whatever he was saying.

But none of that is why I want to set my home ablaze.

I want to set my home ablaze because, quite simply, I have been alive too long.

Live long enough and you seem to acquire stuff.

And my stuff is slowly eating my basement.

I’m about 18 square inches away from a guest appearance on Hoarders.

I have spent at least an hour a day for the last nine days trying to organize my basement. And the basement is winning.

Old golf shoes, old tennis rackets, old hip waders.

Why do I have hip waders? For that matter why do I have an old tennis racket? I have never played tennis, let alone played tennis in a swamp.

Somehow, I have come into possession of four blenders. And they’re great blenders. High end.

Expensive blenders and I have absolutely no memory as to how they happened to come into my life. But you can’t throw away a perfectly good blender even though I know that they last 20 years or so and unless I open a margarita bar, I will never need four blenders.

Hold on.

Why don’t I own a margarita bar? What nonsense has occupied my life instead?


Coulda owned a margarita bar.

I have inventoried my screwdrivers.

I have 47 screwdrivers.

Three of them are the kinds of screwdrivers with interchangeable tips. Which means they are the kind of screwdrivers marketed as the kind that negates the need for more than one screwdriver.

Not to mention my wife’s bulk-buy-because-it-was-on-sale-and-I-couldn’t-leave-it-in-the-store habit.

We currently have enough toilet paper in my basement to equip a hospital during a diarrhea outbreak.

Plus there’s all the knick-knacks you acquire in a lifetime of travel. Stuffed armadillo wearing cowboy boots. Swizzle sticks from Caribbean bars I don’t remember because I blacked out in them. Musket balls I found on a Civil War battlefield.

Said to my wife: “How did this happen?”

She said, “Remember how after your dad died and we were going through his stuff and you found the carburetor of a 1959 Volkswagen that he was keeping just in case he needed it some day? And we both laughed?”


“You’re just like him.”

“I am not!”

I’m just glad she wasn’t in the room when I came across it.

I don’t know how it got into my basement. I swear.

But somehow, at some point … I became the proud owner of a 1959 Volkswagen carburetor.

And I can’t throw it away. I mean, hell. It’s vintage.

And it reminds me of my dad.

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