Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Anecdote # 191

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.


  1. Eek! As a mom, I'm cringing.

  2. oops...
    The Dangerous Bathroom!
    hehe My Bad!

  3. Oh Ade!!!! What a terrible, traumatic experience - the scars of which you have had to carry on the inside, as well as the outside, all your life. Incredibly you didn't loose your sight, or even worse your life! My heart goes out to you.
    A similar experience happened to my ex-husband when he was 14, just a schoolboy... He thought it would be cool to make some fireworks (unlike here in Canada, and probably the U.S., where you can still buy fireworks over the store counter, fireworks have been banned in Australia since the very early 1970's, so I am sure the allure would have been very powerful). He found out what ingredients he needed, then stole them from the science lab at school. Unfortunately for him, he put the chemicals into a glass jar, which he then put into his trouser pocket. He must have forgotten about them, or didn't realise the consequences of his actions. But before long, his body heat caused a reaction, and the jar exploded in his pocket; the 'misture' ran down his leg, fusing his polyester 'grey school uniform trousers' (yes, we wore school uniforms in public high schools in Australia - still do) and his synthetic socks to his leg and foot, and eventually onto the science lab floor, promptly burning a whole all the way through to the classroom downstairs etc. He was rushed to the hospital with shocking 3rd degree burns practically covering his entire left thigh (frightening close to his 'crown jewels'), leg and foot.
    He was in hospital for almost a month, given morphine for the pain, and had to endure daily scraping off of all the scabs etc, and application of a newly developed cream (that cost $350.00 per application) twice a day.
    His leg eventually healed, but he was left permanently scarred with 'new skin' the texture of the bumpy-est orange peel you ever saw.
    Fortunately for him, he could cover it up with his pants (he never wore shorts at all until the longer baggier knee length ones came into fashion). It never bothered me (we began dating when he was 17 & I was 15! - married for 20 years), but I know it bothered him tremendously.
    So, I have a very small inkling of your pain Adrian. But wear your scars proudly as a badge of your incredible courage and strength against adversity in the face of a world who idolise 'perfection and beauty'... you certainly are perfectly beautiful in my eyes Mr. Belew!

  4. Yeesh!

    To change the subject entirely, I just want to gush here for a minute. I just got the link for this blog from a guitarist friend. I'm so excited! I've enjoyed your music for so many years, seen you live several times, and it's always a thrill. I once did a short "getting to know you" type interview for the local paper, and they asked me what four people, living or dead, I would invite to dinner. You were one of them. Consider yourself invited. :o)

    Anyway, thanks for all the great music. I'll be reading.

  5. Wow! That sure beats my chicken pox story.

  6. "out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."
    E.H. Chapin