Saturday proved to be the perfect day to refinish our pavestone patio. Brad Pitt and I built the patio six years ago – it was the first (of many) home improvement projects we did ourselves to our 100+year old bungalow. And we spend a lot of time out there, grilling dinner or sitting by our fire pit. Yesterday was no exception.
For those who have never cared for a pavestone patio, I’ll fill you in on the how-to’s … every year you are supposed to apply a sand/cement mixture to ensure the cracks between each stone stay nicely filled and the patio doesn’t fall apart. It requires a lot of sweeping. And sweeping. And more sweeping. And then intervals of misting the cement mixture with water and waiting. During the misting phase, we usually drink beer. You have to wait 15 minutes between each mist and after the back-breaking work of sweeping, the beer is well deserved.
So we drank beer. And misted. And drank beer. And misted. You get the drift.
Once the patio was complete (and looked so much better!) we moved all the potted plants and furniture back and lit the grill. I fired up the brats we bought earlier in the day and kicked back with another beer. The sun was setting and as dinner was ready to be plated, I suggested we light the fire pit and eat outside. Brad Pitt got to work, arranging pieces of firewood in the pit and spreading out all the dried up weeds he had spent hours picking from the cracks in the patio the week before. He was thrilled to set flame to these weeds that had formerly taken over the patio and caused his fingers to hurt all week from all the plucking.
But the fire never took. We moved things around. We added kindling. We added scraps of paper. We had smoke and a small flame but not a real fire. I don’t quite remember who suggested it, but someone said “lets get the lighter fluid.” Note: our fire pit instructions specifically state: Do Not Use Lighter Fluid. It also says not to use paper or anything besides wood, but we use paper all the time to get a fire rolling, no problem-o. So, how serious could the lighter fluid warning be???
Brad Pitt went inside the house, in search of lighter fluid and returned with a large metal jug of Coleman camp fuel. Apparently we were out of the usual lighter fluid people use in their BBQ grills so he went for the next best thing.
“I don’t know, I’m afraid this shit is going to catch everything on fire,” he said. “Oh, its gonna be okay, just stand back and be careful,” I said. And then it happened.
The fire pit caught fire. And a nice path of fire led up to the metal jug of camp fuel. In an instant the canister itself was on fire. I remember yelling “Oh holy fuck its on fire!!! Drop it! Drop it!!” (I can only imagine what our neighbors were thinking.)
Brad Pitt somehow managed to avoid catching himself on fire and threw the jug o’ fire into the yard. As he did this, he avoided the grill which was still smoldering and the wooden table and umbrella that we usually have set up on the corner of the patio. As the jug hit the yard, I watched some of my potted plants catch on fire, the grass was on fire and of course the jug was still on fire. And Brad Pitt kept yelling “Its going to blow up! Its going to blow up! Get the hose! Get the fire extinguisher! Get the hose!”
I’ve never jumped up so fast in my life. First I grabbed the hose and threw it toward him. Then I ran inside for the fire extinguisher (everyone should own one – I bought ours when we had a massive bagna cauda party planned and was afraid the use of numerous fondue pots was going to lead to a house fire.)
Running back outside with the fire extinguisher I remember thinking to myself “P-A-S-S … P … Pull the pin!” and then I was like “What the fuck does A stand for?!? Aim? Yeah! Aim!” I pulled the pin out of the extinguisher as I was running toward the flaming canister, but Brad Pitt kept yelling “Its going to blow up, get back!” So I aimed the extinguisher from a distance and let it blow. It worked, it sprayed what it was supposed to spray. But I don’t think it made much difference on the flaming-going-to-explode-fuel-jug because I was too far away. All the while, Brad Pitt was spraying the jug with the yard hose on full blast. He made his way to the mouth of the jug and started spraying water inside.
I don’t know if the water put out the fire or if it just burned itself out, but it stopped. And my potted plants weren’t on fire anymore. And the grass wasn’t on fire anymore. And we just stood there astonished that we didn’t have to call the fire department to come to our rescue. Which is great because we have had to call them numerous times before. Like the time Brad Pitt got stuck on our roof trying to fix an exhaust pipe. Or the time we waterproofed our basement and the fumes set off our alarm in the middle of the night and Brad Pitt streaked through the house screaming “Get the fuck out of my house!” over and over because he thought someone had broken in.
So when it was all said and done, we decided it wasn’t the right night to have dinner by the fire pit and we ate inside. And talked about how lucky we were that Brad Pitt didn’t get hurt. That the can didn’t actually explode. That our house didn’t catch on fire. That we didn’t have to call the fire department.
And that our patio looked really awesome.