The Human Torch fiasco.

After a brief mention in my last story I was asked by a few people to tell this story .So by popular demand I bring you The Human Torch fiasco..

This tale takes place in 1980 , I was 8 years old and prone to doing dumb things to impress my neighbor / best friend Shawn. By 1980 pocket sized action figures had became the popular toy  and the mass migration of larger doll like action figure from toy boxes to boxes in the closet.Gone where the GI Joes ,Action Jacksons ,Pulsars, Megos, and basically anything that had removable clothes. In their place was Star War ,Micronauts , Mego Pocket heroes ,Flash Gordon, and the Fisher Price Adventure people. That's what I wanted to play with and that's what all my friends played with.

When my birthday came around and I got the phone call from my Grandma asking what things I was hoping to get for my birthday that year the main thing on my mind was Mego pocket heroes. I wanted all the superheroes I could get because my friend Shawn and I were comic books fiends at that point in time. He had the Mego Pocket heroes and I wanted them.I remember trying to trade him Buck Rogers figures for Superheroes but I mean really who wanted Buck Rogers? We didn't even watch the show(I'm pretty sure it was on past my bedtime.)

Now my parents didn't really let me down that year having gotten me the Adventure people AeroMarine Search Team and Alpha Probe, both very cool set but they were not Super heroes .I knew the hopes for Superheroes rested in that one last birthday gift that always came in the mail a couple days late , the gift from my Grandparents. Sure enough, a few days after my birthday a box arrived in the mail for me!
This was it ,it was going to be the Mego pocket heroes I wanted sooo bad .I tore in to the box like a wild animal .First was the basic brown paper wrapped cardboard box then in side that a brightly color wrapped birthday gift! I blasted right through that paper and inside of it was ....A Mego 8 inch Human Torch ...what the heck grandma? This guy was ..well he was a superhero but he was also a doll that was out of style with me and my friends .Also he was a part of a team and in my mind really not worth very much without his teammates .

As an adult I will openly admit that I was a grade A pain in the butt spoiled little brat. I wanted things the way I wanted them and if it wasn't the way I wanted it everybody within earshot of me would know. So when I opened that Human Torch my parent instantly knew I was not happy , heck I dare say the entire block knew that I wasn't happy. My dad told me something along the lines of be happy  that I received anything from them because when he was a kid, the toys that he had were sadness and hardship both of which his mom sold at a yard sale while he was walking to school uphill in a year round snow storm while working in a sweatshop 23 hours a day.This didn't help my disgust for the Human torch though and if anything it made it worse .
Let's take a moment to talk about my friend Shawn now. This was that kid that was A: Always dirty. B: the one who let everybody else in on the secrets of sex (that he himself had learned from a stack of old hustlers that had been left in a dilapidated shack in the woods we used as a clubhouse but that's another story) and C: always in trouble of some kind. He was a great friend to me at that point in life though and looking back on it probably a super bad influence. Later in life Shawn would fall in with a really bad crowd and eventually was sentenced to death for the drive by shooting of deaths of 2 people. He is still on death row today and maintains that he is innocent, but when I knew him he was just a kid 2 years younger than me, but super fun to be around.
It was a few days after I received the Human Torch that Shawn and I were playing in my room. He had brought his superheroes and we had some fighting action going on. I'm not 100% sure on exactly how it all happened, but one way or another he ended up looking under my bed (maybe for a figure that had been slung under there, but again I'm not really sure. It was then that he burst into laughter. Whats this thing hahaha. Gasp he had found that blasted Human Torch. I quickly told him my Grandmother had sent it to me for my birthday that had just passed and that I hated it and did not want it. That/s when the idea was born . "Hey let's make his disco jumpsuit into real fire ,that will make him cool!"
Out the door we went. On the side of my house was a concrete area with one of those plastic indoor outdoor type rugs on it where I would play and on occasions do things I didn't want my parents to see because there were no windows on that side .Shawn ran home was was back shortly with a cricket lighter (the first lighter I had ever touched) and a bottle of Old spice cologne. Now I wasn't an expert in the art of fire making but I had seen my dad light charcoal in the barbecue grill 100's of time with his Zippo so I figured how hard could it be? Shawn's older brother had shown him at some point that cologne burned and we could use that in place of the charcoal lighter fluid that my dad kept locked in the utility shed.
Ok ,this is where things get a little fuzzy because everything happened very fast. The way it plays out in my memory is like this: I stand the Human torch in the middle of the rug on the concrete slab .Shawn takes the old spice and drowns the human Torch and tossed the (seemingly) empty bottle down a few inches from the Human Torch. I strike the lighter a few time and finally get it to light then I touch the flame to the Human Torch's head and then......booooom! Now like I said before I'm fuzzy on these details but in my mind the fire instantly was everywhere and it went right into the cologne bottle. My memory tells me that the bottle made a jet engine like sound , spit fire and took off across the yard like a bottle rocket. Is that what actually happen? My dad says probably not but in my mind that's what happened.
So it only took a few seconds before the rug was ablaze and Shawn had shot over the fence and into his house like a rat escaping a sinking ship. I was fast to follow .I ran into the house, slammed the door behind me, flew into the bathroom, and into the top of the linen closet where I would (not so secretly) hide when I knew I was in trouble. It wasn't long before I heard yelling and then silence. It was the silence that keyed me in to the fact that I was in real trouble. You see my parents default voice was yelling. I was yelled at for every little thing. But when they went quiet is when I was in real trouble.
I honestly don't know how long I was in the top of that closet crying to myself knowing that I had really messed up but my guess looking back on it as an adult is that it was no more than 10 minutes. I was waiting for them to start yelling my name, but that never happened. What did happen was my dad thrusting the closet door open and grabbing me by my ankle with one hand and yanking me out while simultaneously with the other hand beginning the spanking. He held me in the air by my ankle like an animal caught in a snare while I screamed and cried, beating me the entire time he is carrying me out the front door where he spanked me bare bottomed in front of the neighbors who had come out to see what was going on.
So as it turns out we had completely soaked the rug and it went up like in a blazing inferno that in turn had started to set the side gate and fence on fire. Shawn (being maybe a little brighter than me) had ran into his house screaming fire and his mom came out screaming for my parents who then put the fire out with the garden hose (why didn't we think of that?)
After that I wasn't  allowed to play with Shawn (I did but my parents didn't know) and less than a year later we moved to a different state. I was aloud to have Shawn as a letter buddy and we would scribble strange things back and forth to each other for a few years, but then we fell out of contact. My dad still to this day brings up what became known in our family as "The Human Torch fiasco" to this very day whenever he thinks I'm making a bad life choice (probably about once a week).


  1. I almost spit out my morning coffee watching that GIF of the kid hopping over the fence!It's instinctive to bail when you're at your friends house and some shit goes down LOL!

    1. Seems like more often than not I was the one left holding the bag lol

  2. Great post! I'm so stoked to read other stories about childhood toys... especially the ones involving cologne, lighters, and melted pieces of plastic. It was just sad to hear that your friend is sitting on death row.

    1. This is the last fire story I have unless you count the time I snuck a golf ball under the charcoal briquets before my dad lit the barbeque grill (end results another spanking). Yeah I guess you never know where your childhood friends will end up. I would honestly be shocked if he is the only one of my old friends to currently be in prison.


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