at age 19 I made the stupid mistake of moving away from the warm comforts of my parents house on 117 valley drive into my own sleazo apartment only a few streets away. it was in the basement of the apartment building. I was wretchedly poor. true to the joke (what do you call a musician without a girlfriend? homeless) my girlfriend had a car and a job. she helped pay my rent. some days it was so bad I would ride my bike back to my parents house for a "care package" of campbell's soup and bread.
one day I decided to clean up my basement dwelling. I propped open the back door which led to the parking lot and went to work. one cleaning product I had was a can of Drano Clog Remover, a nasty concoction of chemical crystals which hissed and sizzled when put down a drain. oddly, the can was the size of a hand grenade and was covered in dire warnings:
Keep Water Out Of Can At All Times To Prevent Contents From Violently Erupting Or Boiling Out.
if even one drop of water was present in the can this would cause a chemical chain reaction. I poured the proper amount down the drain and closed the lid. I was sure there was no water anywhere near the can.
I continued to clean in another room, knowing the drano was to be left for 20 minutes to do its dirty deed. when I returned to the bathroom I knew immediately something was wrong. there was a sizzling coming from the can. as I picked it up it was burning hot. in one split second, as if in slow motion, I turned and launched the burning hand grenade toward the open back door. as my hand moved past my face it exploded full force.
there was the immediate surprise BOOM of pain as shards of metal stuck in my skin and the horrid stinging of chemicals burned my eyes and began to fill my lungs. within seconds I could not breath or see. I fell to the floor choking and crying, my ears ringing from the explosion, and began crawling down the short hallway to the kitchen. I could only see an opaque blur but could make out the phone. it was a touch tone phone. I felt the numbers like grail and called my mother. my lungs burned like a forest fire and I could barely growl my words.
the ambulance arrived. my poor mother was waiting at the emergency room. I don't remember much from there, but the next day I was back at my apartment. my head was fully swathed in a bandage which had to be changed once an hour. my eyes were glued over with a thick salve.
I could not see. for three days I was not sure I would ever see again.
on day four the doctor seemed to think my vision would return.
my friends threw me a party. sort of. they turned on the tv and turned the sound off. funny guys. as they left they shook my hand and wished me speedy recovery. eventually I was shaking hands with celery, cheese dip, beef jerky, and god knows what. funny guys.
to this day I have deep scar tissue a bad case of acne would be proud of.