birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Spontaneous Combustion

Ever since I was a kid, I get all weird when asked to make a promise. Like Twilight Zone weird and think that something really powerful is taking place. And if I fail to keep a promise, something really bad is going to happen. I am a seven-year-old in a fifty-five-year-olds body. Promise you won't do drugs (not at 7 but when I got older), umm, ok, I promise? With my voice going up an octave. First time I tried pot, I turned off every light except for the lava lamp, so no one could see me. No one jumped out from behind the macrame plant holder to bust me, I didn't spontaneously combust and the cops didn't burst in. Promise broken, outcome ok.

My Mom asked me to promise that the first time I had sex it would be with someone I loved and would marry. Old-fashioned Mom, survived World War II. I lost my virginity in the '80's after six Mickey's Big Mouths, cocaine and a punk rock concert. I think we had different viewpoints on that promise. And yeah, once again, no spontaneous combustion and the guy now sells toner in Colorado. Dodged a bit of a bullet there. "Promise you'll save for a rainy day and I mean retirement" is what my father asked me. "Absolutely! Look Dad! I just got a checking account with your $500 and I'll make sure I save at least ten percent of each paycheck". That lasted one month. When I was 25. Fast forward to today and I have no savings, live in Southern California so we rarely have rainy days, and have a feeling I'm never going to stop working. However, I've enjoyed my life and will deal with AARP and retirement when I'm 90. I think the only time I've stuck to a promise was when it was health related. "Promise me you'll get that looked at". Yeah, you don't want to fuck with that. You have to promise yourself that you're going to take care of yourself. Stop smoking, eat healthy, cut down on the booze, move your body, expand your horizons. I will make a promise to you that I will continue to do my best at everything I do. Unless I spontaneously combust.

Never Say Never

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