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Friday, May 13, 2011

I Set My Balls On Fire - A True Story

Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire.
Those of you that clicked on the link to this post were probably thinking I was making up some clever title, just to get you to this blog. You might be expecting a story about me lighting a couple basketballs or baseballs on fire. If you saw the picture and clicked on the link, you might be expecting a story about the electrifying performances of Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire. NO! I SET MY BALLS ON FIRE - A True Story.

Back when I was 19 and 20, I worked for a chemical solvent repackaging plant. Huge tank trucks of various solvents would come into the yard and I'd smell them to make sure the bill of lading was correct, and then pump the solvents into the appropriate tank. An error could cause a chemical reaction that would have blown up about five city blocks.

In the meantime, I lived the life of a glue sniffer. In the late '70's none of these safety or environmental laws were in place. We worked without masks in toxic fumes all day. I was high from the time I got to work until I went to the bar after work. I reeked of chemicals 24/7 - no shower could get the smell out of my pores.

This may explain why I'm a maniac blogger with several mental illnesses and I require gallons of coffee and piles of medication to keep me "sane". But that's another story.

When you work with solvents, you learn which ones are really dangerous and which ones are mildly dangerous. Some can strip the paint off of a car, all the way to bare metal, in about 60 seconds. Others will feel fine on your skin until about two hours later, then all the skin dies and you have a massive scab for two weeks. I regularly had those on my thighs from chemical splashes that occurred when I was filling hundreds of 55 gallon drums a day.

On this particular day, we were pumping Xylene into a holding tank from a tank truck. Our pump shot out 100 gallons a minute. It was connected to the tank with hoses that are similar to fire hoses, but much more rigid. The connectors are called OPW's. I don't know what that stands for, but they were OPW connectors.

When the pumping was done, I shut off the valve on the 5,000 gallon Xylene tank. Standing, facing the tank and holding the hose directly in front of me, I un-clamped the two OPW latches. The hose shot away from the tank and the three feet of pipe between the valve and the hose coupling - which was filled with Xylene - emptied directly on my crotch. It was probably about two gallons of liquid.

Having had experience with Xylene spills before, I knew I had about 30 seconds to get this stuff off my junk or I was going to be in serious pain. I dropped the hose and sprinted for the little out-building where our boiler was and a dirty green garden hose.

During the 50 yard sprint, I felt the heat rising on my scrotum.  I ran faster and faster. Now, the pain was unreal. I immediately threw my pants and underwear to the ground, hobbled to grab the hose, and started blasting ice cold water on my genitals to put the fire out.

As I'm standing there with my pants around my ankles and a hose of ice water dousing my dinger, I looked up and noticed that I was standing right outside the company office. All of the women in the office were huddled around the window, looking at me and laughing.

I set my balls on fire. A true story.
You try and retain a respectable manhood after it's been dipped in fiery chemicals, then soaked in ice water for 15 minutes.

Oh, everyone had a good laugh. It took me about 30 minutes to get the burning to stop. I was afraid to pee for a week. Other than that, apparently no permanent damage.

So, this wasn't a cute story about burning basketballs or Great Balls of Fire Jerry Lee Lewis. I SET MY BALLS ON FIRE - A True Story.

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