One time...

A couple of weeks ago, we had a goodbye party for our dear friend Derek. He has lived here in our community for eight (!) years, and we are all despondent in his departure, but cheered just knowing that someone as wonderful and absolutely oozingly cheesy as Derek is, is walking around out there with his peppy walk and big grin. On the night of the party we sat around talking for a while, after we ate a wickedly huge chocolate cake that I made (yes, I'm tooting my own horn), and this is one of the stories that Derek told.

Back when I lived with a thousand people in a flat in San Francisco, I lived with some guys named Larry, Moe, Curly, and "The Edge"*. One night they were visiting the Land after vending food at a festival. Hanging out, shooting the breeze, they were playing with an aerosol can and a lighter, admiring the KHUSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHT sound it made and the nice flame it produced. (For this is what men do. I remember the first time I ever saw my serious, intellectual and artistic husband taping firecrackers together to make a REALLY BIG BANG! WOO HOO!)

They had a moment of inspiration. Let's go have a little fun with Derek! The idea was that they'd scare him enough to get him out of his cabin, and then Curly would sneak into his bed, to surprise him when he got back in. There's nothing like a little surprise man-cuddle in the middle of the night. There's also nothing like being pushed out of the bed onto the hardwood floor, but it never even got that far.

Larry, Moe, and the Edge snuck around to the back of the cabin, to make scary noises that would get Derek out of his bed and into their trap. What they didn't know, as they shot some gas out of their aerosol can and lit in on fire, to make that great KHUSSSSSSSHHHHT sound, was that they were standing right next to the propane tank (we use propane in this here neck o' the woods). The Edge started to go a little overboard, as he is known to do, yelling in a terror-inducing voice "LET'S BURN THIS CABIN DOWN!!! with gutterals and spitting and an unidentifiable accent.

Poor Derek, lying in his bed, heard the KHUSSSSSSHHHT sound and assumed that they were lighting the PROPANE on fire! He didn't recognize the voice that The Edge was using, and so he leapt out of bed and out of his cabin, yelling. This is where I get a little fuzzy, but I believe that The Edge made a break for it, while Larry and Moe hid in the bushes. People started coming out of the woodwork, and at this point in time there were a ton of guys living at the Land, guys who had recently stopped living on the street, or recently kicked drugs. Stuff like that. They starting milling around, looking for the suspects after Derek told them what had happened, what he heard. He was terrified. Larry and Moe tried to play it cool, strolling down a path and wondering aloud what was going on. They ran into two of the guys who were looking for Derek's attempted killers. The guys were carrying hockey sticks. Things had gotten a little out of hand.

I think it was at the point that Derek was on the phone with 911, that someone finally spilled the beans and confessed. He was not amused. Everything was sorted out, and people were starting to return to their beds when Derek, more furious than he had ever been, went back into his cabin. His adrenaline was subsiding and he was exhausted, and all he wanted was to sink into his bed. Then he found Curly hiding in his bathroom, giggling behind the door. I'm sure he gave him a look of steel. "Get. OUT."

The moral of the story? Don't pretend to try to kill your friends by setting their cabins on fire, or make sure The Edge knows his instructions.

*Names have been changed