>>> Primal Urges
By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf

September 26, 2007

Rod: You don't have any stuff from when you were a kid?
Nathan: Not from before 7th grade.
Rod: Why not?
Nathan: My house burnt down in seventh grade.
Rod: Oh yeah. I remember that. Didn't you start that fire?
Nathan: Hey man, it happens.
Rod: Yeah. So does herpes.

I burnt my house down when I was in 7th grade.

And you think you've pissed your parents off.

Basically, this story begins and ends with the fact that I am a moron. Always have been. Always will be. You are what you eat and all that (it's my column and I don't have to make sense if I don't want to). And one day I got the bright idea to purchase a couple of lighters because well, I just wanted to burn shit 'cause I thought it looked cool (ladies: certain characteristics of both Beavis and Butthead are inside every man you meet—you've been warned).

And you know what looked really cool when I burned my initials into it? The thick plastic covering underneath the bottom of my bed's box spring at the time.

“Well, Nate, I think we can call this one of your more major screw-ups.”

And you know what went up like a Roman candle about ten minutes after I figured out how cool it looked when I burned my initials in to it? The thick plastic covering underneath the bottom of my bed's box spring at the time.

At first I tried to put out the rapidly growing fire, but it was rapidly growing so I didn't have a shot. By the time I realized that smothering the damn thing would fail, using water was no longer an option. Let me tell y'all something: if you've ever stood in your bedroom and watched it go up in flames, you know exactly what it feels like to mess up royally. I mean, fuck a nasty fight or a misdemeanor arrest. That's a mild inconvenience compared to the extreme feelings of remorse and shame that follow burning down the house in which you and your family live.

As I ran from my bedroom, I yelled for my 8-year-old sister to call 911 (I was too busy freaking the fuck out to talk to authority figures at the time), which she did. The folks on the other end of that line saw fit to request the services of the local fire department, which, being local and not too busy at the time, arrived roughly three minutes later.

I stood outside with my sister as we cried while our house burned.

Shortly after the fire department arrived, my mother arrived from work (she had been notified of the fire). She was happy as hell that we were alive but worried about the whereabouts of my brother Jay, who, a few minutes later, walked over from a neighbor kid's house. He was easily recognizable by the growing crowd because he was the only DeGraaf laughing his ass off that day.

He had heard I started the fire.

“Well Nate,” he said as he put his arm around me, “I think we can call this one of your more major screw-ups. I mean, forget flunking algebra. This is up there.”

I managed a laugh through my tears.

Now, seeing as how this website is American, I'm sure some of you would like a happy ending here. Fortunately for you, I have one.

My mother ended up marrying the Battalion Chief on Duty of the Fire Department that put out the fire and they are still married to this day.

No joke.

Everything in life has a way of coming full circle. Until you’re dead. And then everything kind of just gets full of embalming fluid and whatnot.