If you play with fire, you're going to get burned.
I would imagine just about everyone has heard that line at some point or another, possibly when they are children and they stumble upon a book of matches that are just begging to be used.
While playing with those matches you definitely could burn yourself, or you could accidentally light half a mountainside on fire.
Or so I have heard anyway.
It's not like me and my best friend found a book of matches and were lighting very small piles of sagebrush on fire and then stomping it out.
And we definitely did not make the fires progressively larger and let them burn a little longer before putting them out.
And we certainly did not do it in the middle of a hot summer on a tinderbox of a hillside covered in dead, dry, highly flammable plant matter.
That would just be stupid.
And because we were not doing that, the flames never got away from us and set a massive pile of tumbleweeds on fire that ignited faster than barrel of gasoline.
It does not matter how much you stomp on a huge pile of burning tumbleweeds, they are extremely hard to put out, or so I have heard anyway.
Yup, it's a good thing we never did any of that or else we would have to run to my friend's house – where his firefighter dad had the day off and was doing yard work – screaming the mountain was on fire.
At least his dad and half the neighbourhood did not have to run up the hill with shovels and buckets of water to put out a fire some stupid kids started because they found a book of matches on the street.
It is a good thing none of that happened or a lot of parents would have been really mad at a pair of eight year olds who smelled like smoke and looked more frightened than Dracula's dinner guest.
Had all of that happened, those two eight year olds would have been in a lot of trouble, except one of the eight year olds took all the blame, sparing the other eight year old a lot of grief.
That eight year old, who just for fun we could call my best friend, technically was the one who found the matches and suggested we light some fires in the first place. I, er, um, I mean the other eight year old was just dumb enough to go along with the plan.
Had all of that actually happened anyway, that might be how it happened.
Those two eight year olds were sure good friends. They met four years earlier and were inseparable for more than a decade before life took them in different directions.
However a childhood friendship like that can never be erased. We would cross paths and it would be like not a day had passed since we last hung out together.
At one point we went almost two years without running in to each other, but when we did, we were still the best of friends.
You only get one chance at having a life-long friend and Greg was mine.
We reconnected in our 20s and began to hang out again on a more regular basis, interacting with the ease of a lifetime bond that only childhood friends share.
We would talk about that stupid fire – had it actually happened I mean – and of the many dumb things we did together over all those years.
My best friend is gone now. Taken from this earth far too soon by the scourge of cancer. It will be three years this month since his passing.
I think of him often. I smile at our past adventures, marvel at our stupidity and bask in the joy of the memories only a friendship like that can create.
I miss you my friend, and I always will.
copywrite 2014 Darren Handschuh