A Fire In The Belly

fire
When I was about seven, I lived in a small town and made  my career choice based on a carnival.  Every July, a traveling troupe would roll into our town’s small park. There were a few trailers driven by shady carnies with black grease under their nails, some game booths, ripped tents, and a little portable stage for the “acts”.

Today these acts would not even be popular in the cardboard box villages of the homeless – but for kids in Hicksville, USA – they were fantastic!  Our favorite was the Fire Eater.  When this guy took off his shirt (he was also the Strongman), threw his head back, and shoved down a long, flaming sword, the crowd went nuts!  I immediately decided that’s what I wanted to be in life – a Fire Eater!

Now, as an older man, I see there are a few disadvantages in that particular line of work.  But as a kid, I went to the library and read all sorts of books and magazine on the subject.  In one I remember the “worst” thing about fire eating in those days: rehearsing with lit, oily rags tied with wire around swords – and becoming complacent about it.

If you got too cocky and didn’t tie the wire tightly,  part of the burning rag would slip off the sword, slide down your throat, and land – still burning!  And I remember what the guy said about that unhappy experience: the fire would go out after a few seconds – but it was a looong few seconds.

Today, over a half-century later, I still remember that man’s words.  If something’s not going well in a day,  I say to myself, “Well, at least I’m not a damn Fire Eater.”

Fire Eaters:  https://www.google.com/

Fire eater image.

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