04 February 2009

President Gumbo and the Big Red Button

Begging your pardon, dear Readers, because the title of this here post is a bit of a misnomer. See, I am not a President. At least, I am not a President of anything you have probably heard of. Most people hear the word ‘President’ and they think POTUS, Pres O’ The Eeww Nighted States, which most certainly is not me. Wouldn’t want the job, even if I didn’t have to run for it. It doesn’t suit my Temperament. I don’t like backgrounds checks, either. It isn’t so much that I have done any Egregious Wrong Type Stuff; it’s that I find it insulting to have people poking their noses in my Personal Biz, unless I ask them to. Which is almost never. About the only place I am really President*of is the Republic Of Gumbo, a small country approximately the size of my head, population: 1. And the native is restless. I am constantly on watch for a coup d’etat.**

You might say, “Gumbo, why would you NOT want to President? Think of the power! Think of the cool limos you’d get to ride in! Think of all the navy blue suits you would own!” Yeah, well, that’s nice and all. But limos are overrated, and I have an aversion to suits. As in I don’t want to wear one, they make me itch no matter what fabric it is.*** Now to be honest I could dig me some power, because that means I could tell people to just leave me the hell alone, and they’d be all “Sorry, Mr. POTUS, sir we’ll come back when you’re ready!” and I’d be all “Hells to the yeah, and I get to decide when I’m ready!” and there is nothing they could do about it. Heh. That’d be cool.

So I’m alright with power, but there is a really big reason why you, the upstanding Citizens of this Fair Land of Amber Waves, would not want me to be the President, charged with safeguarding your welfare and all.

I have a worrisome fascination with Big Red Buttons.

It’s my understanding that the President has access to the Lord God Emperor of all Big Red Buttons, and if he were to be inclined or advised to push, some serious shit of the Really Bad Type would happen. Like a plague of radioactive Giant Frogs would land on us or something, or the national supply of Cheesy Poofs would be cut off. Apocalypse, my friends, not cool.

No, let me explain. So why don’t you “ruminate whilst I illuminate”****:

Picture if you will, an ordinary looking bedroom, in an ordinary looking house. There is a nice wooden desk with side drawers and some overhead cabinets and shelves. Said drawers and shelves are cluttered with books and the assorted junk that tends to accumulate around nerdy young boys with social anxieties, curious minds and too much time on their hands. Sitting at the desk is the aforementioned nerdy young boy. The fluorescent light overhead lights his face with that peculiar glow that tends to make white people look like Casper. He is staring intently at the items on the desk before him, inventoried thusly:

1 box of matches
1 candle, sitting in a metal holder
A small length of coat hanger wire
2 boxes of the real old-style flashbulbs, the kind with the wiry metal clump in the middle
A clump of the same wiry metal

The candle is lit. The young man is intently cracking open the flash bulbs and pulling out the contents, to add to the steadily growing clump on the desk. The wiry metal stuff is magnesium wool. It was used in flashbulbs, back when flashbulbs were common. It is also found in flares, and I believe it used to be (maybe still is) an accelerant in certain things that were supposed to burn bright and hot. Oh, and in flash bombs, too. The clump is approximately the size of a golf ball.

It should also be noted that our Hero had recently read a lot about magnesium and other metals for a school report, and it was in the course of that research he stumbled across an Interesting Fact: magnesium in the form of a powder or thin filaments will burn extremely fast, bright and hot if ignited. Our Hero also had just read on a carton of flash bulbs***** that they contained magnesium wool, “Keep away from open flame”. Hah.

So the Hero calmly assembles a big lump of magnesium wool, impales it with the length of coat hanger wire, says to himself “What’s this big, red button do?” and calmly thrusts the ball of magnesium into the open flame.


“Oh, shit!” (cough, cough, cough)
“Oh, shit, I’m blind!” (searching for eyebrows)
“Aw, man, I am screwed!” (waving frantically to disperse smoke)

Having satisfied himself that magnesium wool does indeed burn hot, fast and BRIGHT, our Hero settles down to await the return of his vision. Yep, magnesium wool is an excellent source of light for flashbulbs, as his seared retinas will attest. Now, this isn’t the only example of the Big Red Button fascination. There were certainly others.

There was the Backyard-Model-Bonfire-Fiasco, behind the shed. Good thing the shed was metal.

There was the Hardened-Thick-Lumber-Chunks-In-The-Leaf-Shredder Dance Party. Woo! What a beat that was! My ears are still ringing.

There was the Let’s-Use-Gunpowder-To-Burn-The-Leaves-In-The-Field-Behind-The-House Debacle. Glad I did that at night, the flash was phenomenal.

The Let’s-Stick-The-Ends-Of-This-Mystery-Electrical-DooDad-Into-The-Socket Break Dancing Lessons. Actually, I knew the wires would heat up to the point of melting, but that’s not what happened. What happened was my finger slipped off the plug and touched one of the prongs as it went into the receptacle. The resulting surge of power shot through my arm and the spasms flung me across the room to land on the side of my bed. That shit hurt.

And probably one of my personal favorites: The Starting The Motorcycle In The Shed Trick!

This one was a real hoot. My brother briefly had a small motorcycle he was going to fix, and it was out in the shed in our backyard. The shed was small and the motorcycle was up on chocks. It ran, but it was missing one small piece of hardware that was essential to its operation: the throttle cable, it was broken. And I knew it was broken.

It was also of the type that you could kick start it by pumping the foot lever down and holding in the clutch (at least, I think it was the clutch), so it was pretty easy to start. Very, very easy to start. So easy even a blockhead like Yours Truly could do it, no sweat. So one day, I went out to the shed to goof around and sit on the motorcycle. I was pretending to drive the motorcycle, hands on the bars squeezing the clutch when I said “What’s this Big, Red Button do?” and I pumped the foot lever.

You know what happens when you start a motorcycle like that, and the throttle cable is broken? Well, the engine screams to life as if it were running at full throttle. I was so freakin’ surprised that it started (and that sumbitch was LOUD) that I screamed and LET OUT THE CLUTCH. You know what happens when you let out the clutch on an engine that is running at full throttle? The motorcycle takes off like a freakin’ missile, that’s what happens! Which is exactly what happened to Moi. The bike leapt off the chocks and shot full bore at the back wall of the shed, me hollering at the top of my lungs and hanging on while trying not to choke to death on the thick, blue smoke that was filling up the place up. BANG! Right into the wall! I fell off as the bike tipped over, frantically trying to find the kill switch on the handlebars.

Fortunately, I found the switch and cut the engine. Just in time for my brother to fling open the door to the shed, screaming “What the hell are you DOIN’?!” Blue smoke pouring out the door, I just looked at him and said “Nuthin’, why?”

So there you have it, Friends and Citizens, that is why I don’t want to be President. I just don’t know as I could resist the urge to fiddle with that Big Red Button. Many things in life I learn the hard way; it’s good knowledge, just not suited for general distribution.

And I really don’t want to be responsible for Giant Radioactive Frogs landing in your backyard.

* Louis XIV said “L’etat c’est moi!” Gumbo says “L’etat say whaat?”
**Ever try to cut off your own head? I cannot endorse it. Painful. Messy.
***And you can bet your ass if I was POTUS, I wouldn’t be wearing some nylon/polyester/microfiber shit, no way. Silk, baby, silk! I want my junk to be comfortable.
****Name that movie and I’ll hoist a Guinness in your honor.
*****Told you he was a nerd.

Teri at
Cold Lemonade has posted her final entry in our collaboration. All I can say is: PLEASE READ IT NOW. Words have escaped me; it’s...oh, just read it! I am honored and delighted to have been a part of it, and many thanks to Teri for allowing me to contribute. And in a strange way, it ties in nicely with the theme of my post today.


  1. hm...I'm fascinated with red buttons too. They rock!

  2. The movie was Disney's Aladdin. :D

    I, too, have a Big Red Button fascination, or I did as a kid. My uncle, who was only 3 years older than me, and I once ripped open each and every firecracker from a very large package of Black Cats, piled all of the powder in a big pile on my grandparents back porch, and created a little line running up to it, then lit the little line.

    It went BOOM. And my grandparents had to buy a new screen door.

  3. Ah, you see, the Big Red Button fascination means that you have a tendency more toawrds supervillainy than presidency (trust me, we know our own type).

    Yeah, after the spectacularly stupid Aerosol-Cans-As-Makeshift-Fireworks Incidnet at uni which resulted in the instigator's trip to the eye hospital, we cut back on the experimenting...

  4. Great story. I'm a curious person, so have a slight fascination with big red buttons, as well.

    I guess that's only more blog fodder.

    I can so see you starting that monster motorcycle, Irish!

  5. You sound exactly like my brother. he was always blowing sh*t up and getting in to trouble - gawd love him - now he tends to get in trouble with his mouth. I see a wee bit of him in my son. I googled the quote and the genie said it in Aladdin - I'm thinking that might not be the movie you are looking for.

  6. Haha. You have such an interesting, sick, little mind. I like it.

  7. I love the smell of sulphur in the morning.

  8. You sound like my H. He had more than his fair share of "experiments" when he was a kid.

  9. You know, I've never really thought about big red buttons before.

  10. I'm fascinated with green enter buttons. Those make the cash come out. :-)

  11. So you didn't say if your brother was ever able to fix the rocket you were on. Did you have something to do with that?

  12. I, too, was shot across the room by an electrical shock. YOW. Couldn't feel my right arm for quite some time.
    It runs in the family. My son exploded a can of white spray paint in a bonfire he and his SIX YEAR OLD BUDDIES!!! had started. My brother set fire both to Grandpa's barn and our alley...

  13. That was humorous romp through your boyhood memories!


  14. If you get bumper stickers made that say, "Gumbo 2012," I will totally put one on my car. TOTALLY!

  15. LMAO! That post had me laughing out loud. It's like you are straight out of "A Christmas Story" for realz. Hahahaha

    "Let’s-Use-Gunpowder-To-Burn-The-Leaves-In-The-Field-Behind-The-House Debacle" Hilarious

  16. I could totally see what kind of boy you were growing up!!! TROUBLE!!!

    I had cousins JUST like that!

    haha..you have had quite the coloring in your life, eh?

  17. I'm wondering how old you were when you had each of these dumbass attacks. Especially the motorcycle incident! When you said you freaked out and let go of the clutch... I knew the fat lady had sang!

  18. I was so busy laughing that I forgot to say that I'll take one of those Gumbo 2012 bumper stickers, too!

  19. OK....MacGyver...

    My lord..you sound like me as a kid/teen/young adult/man....well anyway, I did some of that shit too. Fun but scary as shit sometimes.

    Loved the post.

  20. I'm here for the free bumper stickers.

  21. Dude, 8th grade (don't know what that is in Americanese) I stuck a 9 volt battery on my braces. Top and bottom=closed circuit.

    I was legendary in high school.

  22. Sunny: Did you ever blow anything up?

    Jan: (glugglugglug) aahhhh.. And that Black Cat story is off the hook! I’ll bet they had to by a door!

    TBF: Mwahhhhahahaha! Next time, wear goggles.

    Janie: It wasn’t a monster until I started it…

    MDS: Blowin’ shit up is fun…And Aladdin is correct!

    Petra: I was hopin’ I would catch your eye ;)

    SEC: That smell, that sulphur smell…smells like…Victory!

    Michelle: Does he still have his eyebrows?

    Pamela: see, that’s how I get ya, always with the thinkin’.

    SK: Doh! All that time wasted on RED buttons!

    CandC: Dad made him get rid of it soon after.

    Pearl: (laugh) You and yours, that’s just dangerous!

    MHH: Boyhood? That was last year!
    Shonda: (smack) What a great idea!

    Miw: Heehee.

    Teri: Oh, jeez, that’s 3 for the cause (glug). And I didn’t put me eye out!

    BEW: I did – a lot of soot!

    Chris: (bellylaugh) Dumbass attacks, that’s gold, baby!

    BTM: I still can’t make a grenade out of a bar of soap and a tape measure…Thanks!

    VM: You got it, babe!

  23. Captain: Was your nickname "Roman Candle"?. Jay-zus, that was about Bronze Star stupid!

  24. what about the man????who turned
    the outside water on and filled up trash can & ran down the street

  25. I still think you should be POTUS and I am writing you in next time. Go ahead, try to stop me and I'll kick your arse at your innaugural (sp?) ball. Oh well, you can kick me out for bad spelling...sheesh.

  26. Ah, man. You don't need to worry 'bout that Big Red Button on the POTUS's desk. No. All it does is bring you discounted office supplies the "easy" way.

  27. Very cool story, great post!

  28. The "oh shit I'm blind" line is not fair on me when I'm in a public place, Irish...:))

  29. OMG. That gave me a good chuckle this morning. I don't think I want to stand anywhere near you when you find the next Big Red Button. But I'll be happy to watch from afar.

  30. Dad: I never did catch that guy…

    TSM: Well, if you really want me to. Plus, I don’t want to get kicked in the arse :)

    CK: Is that all? Well, now I don’t have to worry!

    KW: Why thank you, and thanks for dropping by!

    Braja: just tell everyone you have received a “vision” :) heehee..

    Chris: OMG, thank you! That has to go on the site! Awesome!

    BMA: Glad to help. And, yes, I would recommend distance…

  31. You know what's weird? I'm the same way. I'm fascinated with Big Red Buttons. I could never get anything done until I pressed it.

  32. So, freakin' funny, and I will not let you near any buttons!

    It will be interesting to see if Wee Lass develops similar traits.

  33. oh, irish, you remind m of my brother. i was picturing him on that motorcycle. too funny.

    sorry i drank all the guinness. i'll bring more next time.


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Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

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