[Loch-Ruadh] Fw: SCA meets the Darwins

Steve K. Rourke steverourke at charter.net
Wed Mar 24 08:26:44 PST 2004

I'm sorry, but I just had to pass this one along.


> http://www.darwinawards.com/slush/pending20040318-130559.html
> Medieval fire torture
> 2004 Reader Submission
> Pending Acceptance
> I'm happy to report that this story will only qualify for an honorable
> mention, since the subject is a good friend of mine. To avoid embarassing
> him, I'll call him Adam.
> It was a warm spring night in Bowling Green, Ky., and the SCA was in town.
> That's the Society for Creative Anachronism, the medieval-life reenactment
> group. They were having a weekend event at Beech Bend Park, nestled in a
> woody curve of the Barren River.
> Two of my friends were heavily into the SCA, and had pitched their tents
> with the other sword-wielding and baggy-pants-wearing celebrants. They
> invited me and my friend Adam to join them for one evening's campout.
> both were lovely blondes (as well as charming friends), we readily agreed.
> They provided us with "garb," faux-medieval clothes that would enable us
> blend into the crowd. A tabard and baggy pants were enough for me, but
> wanted something more.
> Every SCAdian, as they are known, practices some sort of skill, whether
> cooking or singing or some craft, or just energetically whacking each
> with duct-tape-covered fake swords. Adam wanted to go all the way. He can
> juggle, which was a start, but still not quite enough. He wanted to be
> impressive. He decided to breathe fire.
> Adam had seen this stunt performed before, with pure grain alcohol. But
> never done it, and being under 21 at the time, couldn't buy pga himself.
> He wanted me to buy it for him, and I was willing; but I didn't get off
> my waiter's job until after 11 p.m., which is when liquor stores close in
> our town. And he hadn't thought ahead to ask me the day before the event.
> So, still determined to blaze with glory, he went looking for a
> Let's see ... what flammable liquids can an incautious young man buy in a
> Kentucky Wal-mart at 11:30 at night? There were several choices, none
> But Adam settled on Coleman stove fuel.
> It was clear, didn't smell that strong, and he could pour it into an empty
> wine bottle for "period" accuracy. I wasn't sure about this, but Adam
> decided it was close enough.
> Once at the event - called "Border Raids" - I stood talking to one friend
> while Adam said, "C'mere, I've got something to show you," and led the
> behind a large cloth tent. About 20 feet away stood half a dozen guys in
> chain mail armor, warming themselves around a fire. They could see him
> directly, but I couldn't.
> Seconds later, a deep "WHOOOM!" burst from behind the tent, accompanied by
> gout of orange flame. "Whoa!" cried all the guys around the campfire,
> turning to applaud. But their applause died, as even through a double
> of tent fabric I could see this ... afterglow.
> "Holy shit! He's on fire!" the mail-clad men yelled, and ran over to pound
> out the flames wreathing Adam's head.
> What he hadn't realized was that stove fuel gave off fumes very unlike
> As he swigged the fuel, some of it trickled down his chin - fortunately,
> he'd shaved off his goatee the day before. As it was, fumes wreathed his
> head and spread down his throat. In the ensuing conflagration, he managed
> burn the hair off the BACK of his head, while hardly touching that on top.
> His eyebrows, however, were scorched too. Rivulets of flame ran down his
> neck, and he suffered chemical burns in his throat.
> Adam was still standing, and at first didn't think he was seriously hurt.
> But the burns started to sting in a few minutes, and I led him to the
> chirurgeon's tent. They quickly saw that neither medieval technology nor
> modern first aid would suffice, and I drove Adam to the hospital.
> He stayed there several days and became quite an object of interest on
> floor. The burns on his neck healed without serious scarring, his hair
> regrew, and the octave he lost off his voice came back in about six
> Perhaps five years later I went to another Border Raids gathering in
> different city, accompanying the same female friends but sans Adam. It had
> been a long and entertaining day, and was concluding with an energetic
> belly-dancing demonstration around a bonfire, accompanied by throbbing
> drums. I turned to the stranger standing next to me and commented on how
> exciting the event was.
> "Aw, this is nothin', man," he replied. "If you think this is exciting,
> shoulda' been here about five years ago. This crazy dude set his head on
> fire!"
> Submitted on 03/18/2004
> Submitted by: Jim G
> Reference: Personal account, Spring 1992
> Copyright © 2004 DarwinAwards.com

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