That Time I Had My Hair Lit on Fire — And Other Stories from a Life Well-Lived

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What follows comes from my “Memories” list, which is exactly what you might think it is. Creative title, I know. That being said, I highly recommend that you keep something like this for yourself.

I’m sure that plenty of incredible, hilarious, tragic, and meaningful things happen to you during your one and only life, and you cannot trust your memory. You will forget all the fun you’ve had, and that would be a waste.

Writing about yourself can be lame and self-indulgent in all sorts of ways, but I promise to avoid all that. These are short, what-I-think-are-entertaining stories from my life that I think you might enjoy, and that I just had to write about.

I hope you enjoy reading about my life as much as I enjoyed living it!

So I’m staying late at the bar (after close) where I’m one of the bouncers — the best looking bouncer, and probably the third toughest -

Wait. Stop. Before we go on.

I just got called away from my writing desk. Actually, it’s not technically my desk — I work overnight security at a hospital. I’m using…someone’s desk. It’s nighttime and I have the keys to the entire building. Anyway, I just got called up to escort someone outside.

I learn that he’s the guy I saw a few hours ago coming in, apparently to say goodbye to his father. Which is pretty much the worst thing that I can think of happening in my life. Anyway, it happened to him, just now, minutes before I sat down to write this story.

I’m in the middle of telling a story about how my hair was lit on fire after work at the bar, and not 15 minutes later, I’m walking beside this guy, down this long, orange hallway, him carrying two bags of his dad’s belongings, neither of us saying anything.

What do you even say?

I decide to not say anything unless he says something first. If he doesn’t want to talk, I won’t talk.

We reach the elevators in silence, head down to the fourth floor, from the sixth, where he’s parked. We wait to get out of the elevator, and he says, “Is this the street?” I say, “Yeah, right down here.” More silence.

I’m trying not to walk too slow or too fast, kinda just keeping pace with however fast he wants to walk. I’m in no rush, and this guy is living the worst thing that I think could ever happen to me. I do not want to think about being him.

We’re at the door now. The nurses thought he would be violent, that’s why they called me up, but we pretty much just walked in pensive silence. “Bye,” I said.

Alright, I’m back. What were we — right: Hair on fire.

My best friend in the world, Brian, decides to ask me if he can light my hair on fire. I ask a reasonable question: “Why?”

No answer.

Thirty seconds later: “Can I light your hair on fire?”

“Yea, go ahead. Fuck it.”

I don’t quite remember, but it’s doubtful that I had a girl waiting for me. Otherwise, I don’t feel like I would have submitted to this.

Having your hair lit on fire doesn’t actually feel that bad! It doesn’t hurt, but I guess for it to really hurt, you have to be like, engulfed in flames. This was a regulation, everyday lighter which just cast off a little flame. I smelled my own hair burning, but I mean I have red hair, so it’s not like anyone would notice.

I’m still curious to see how high the flames went in the air…but judging from Brian’s expression it was, uh…enough to matter. I get a haircut every week anyway. No worries.

YEARS LATER:

Brian texted me for a favor, asked me to “be a friend” and help him out.

My response: “You lit my HAIR on fire!!!” Best friends forever.

Also…I just remembered that the nurse up on the unit told me to “be nice to him,” because his father just died. Does she think that I’m just going to choke-slam the guy through the unit doors and drag him to the parking lot in a full nelson? I don’t even know how to apply a full nelson. Stupid nurse. I hope that guy’s okay. I’ll be thinking about him.

THE END

OTHER STORIES:

My Memories List has a lot of entries, but not all of them are, you know, “Story-worthy.” Some are just so personally relevant that you probably don’t care, others require more context than is feasible to give, and others just aren’t all that, you know, “Good.” Boring is the enemy.

So, while these aren’t full stories, these are a few samples that kind of stand on their own as being funny, weird, interesting, or something else entirely.

Enjoy!

#1: It was the very next night after getting hired on as a bouncer at a place called Cheers. I’m 19 years old, I’m years away from getting kicked off the subcontinent of India (don’t ask), and I have a night off with my friends.

The drinking age is 19 here, so I was just legal and green, and I found myself in the lineup waiting outside to get into the bar that I was just hired at.

I’ve got no problem waiting in the lineup, and even now, after I’ve been working downtown for years and years, I like waiting in line! I normally don’t have to wait. Halifax isn’t huge, but I know most of the bouncers, they know me, and I can usually waltz right in (as much as a bouncer ever ‘waltzes’ anywhere).

But waiting in the lineup to get into a bar is part of the experience! It’s fun, goddamn it, and I was 19, so I was determined to enjoy myself no matter what.

But as we’re about in the middle of the line, one of the security supervisors comes up to me and says, “Hey, didn’t you get hired last night?” I’m like, “Yea! Good to meet ya, man.” And I get pulled from line! We all get stamps, we jump past maybe a dozen people who are still waiting, and get to just head straight in.

I don’t remember much from that night — not because I got too drunk, it was just a long time ago — but I will always remember how it felt to skip that first line and secure a big table with a group of my friends having the time of our lives. That was a great night, and it made it onto my Memories List.

#2: That time I slapped one of our dorky kitchen guys in the face with a glove and challenged him to a duel. Homer Simpson made me do it.

#3: That time we kicked this guy out of the bar (The Dome) and he started going off like a loser about how much money he makes at his bullshit job. At this point, he’s literally throwing $20s at us, and we’re just laughing at him. I think one of the bouncers that kicked his ass after taking his money now has a degree in astrophysics, one is a rich and famous writer (guess who), and another is now happily married with an amazing wife and a beautiful child. That guy we kicked out remains a tool to this day.

All the best,

Matt Karamazov

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