Perhaps the worst consequence of burning down my garage when I was 5 years old is that I’ve become the de facto “pyro” in charge of starting campfires at family gatherings. But just because I was regularly caught and punished for playing with fire growing up doesn’t mean that I like propping up a bunch of logs into a teepee over kindling and newspaper and watching the fire eviscerate physical matter into heat and energy.
In fact, I hate campfires because they smell and they’re pointless.
I’m not old enough to have experienced cigarettes in bars (?), but I’m well-acquainted with the experience of waking up after a night of sitting around a campfire. Your clothes, skin, hair and now bed are stained with stale smoke, which also deeply coats the inside of your lungs and throat.
And for what?
It’s 2020. I’ll make a s’more in the microwave and watch a yuletide log burn on Netflix under the cover of a blanket, thank you very much.
Sure, fire was critical to human evolution, what with being a tool to cook with and stave off hypothermia and/or predators. But sorry, the same can’t be said for the clay chiminea surrounded by waterlogged patio furniture in your backyard. Not to mention, 90 percent of wildfires that displace families and destroy billions of dollars worth of property are started by humans — often from, of course, campfires.
It’s a testament to our hubris that we’ve taken something once necessary for survival and turned it into a frivolous luxury to keep ourselves entertained. I mean, if you’re planning a small coronavirus-friendly, social-distance hang at home this summer, try changing the language you use from “We can have a little fire in the backyard!” to “I’m going to unnecessarily incinerate what remains of our earth’s natural resources until your throat starts to burn and your clothes and car smell like ash and smoke for two weeks.”
Not so quaint and cozy now, is it?
In reality, every campfire is a threat to spark the final fire that spreads across the planet, a plume of smoke and flame that cares not for our cries of “white rabbit” because it’s humanity turning to burnt carbon. And just imagine how stinky and miserable those poor wretched souls who survive will be, lost and alone, wandering in search of a shower and washing machine.
I can imagine no worse of a hell.