For those unfamiliar with television physics, the hardest thing in the world to do is start a fire. Popular survival themed shows regularly round up aging boy scouts, campfire girls and pyromaniacs on sun baked islands equipped with flint, tinder and blowtorches in an environment more brittle than the inside of a kiln, yet no one seems able to so much as roast a marshmallow. (By the way, nothing says entertainment like despondent castaways weeping over inert kindling.)
Of course in real world physics you need do nothing more than point a flashlight at the draperies before finding yourself engulfed in flames. Likewise, the sparks generated by shaking hands over an area rug are enough to make a dwelling go up like a matchstick.
According to actuarial tables, chances of starting a fire increase tenfold if a homeowner has no insurance, and escalate to one hundred percent if you have been paying heavy premiums for years which have just now lapsed. In the time it takes to recognize the oversight and cross to the telephone to notify the insurance company, you will spontaneously combust, setting off a blaze that engulfs the nearby fire department.
Thanks to the irony of physics, a man wearing an asbestos sweater is twice as likely to catch flame as an eccentric dandy adorned in a matchstick suit dipped in kerosene.
If you don’t believe me try this experiment for yourself:
Immerse your house in a large tank of water on the Fourth of July as you watch your drunken neighbor shoot off illegal fireworks from his rooftop while he lights matches from his alcohol soaked shirt pocket.
Dear student of real life physics, I need not tell you the results of this experiment as you are probably fully aware from your vantage point in the emergency room where they are mistakenly applying salve to your singed toupee or wiglet.
Your uninsured, penniless neighbor will be unable to compensate you for the damage to your home, the contents of which now resembles a Friday night fish boil, while the interior of his house, decorated in oily rags and old newspapers, remains unscathed.
I need not go in to detail about the ironic minutiae: your oven mitts were burned beyond recognition while the gas can in the garage is the only thing that didn’t catch fire.
This applies to other natural disasters as well: the one day you don’t tie down the cow, the tornado strikes. You pay the exterminator overtime to remove frogs from your basement the night before the water table rises. You leave mother in the car just as a cold snap sets in.
This is a game you can’t win so relax and enjoy yourself. According to the laws of irony the health nut will drop dead before the circus fat man, and the alcoholic’s liver will be put on display at the Smithsonian, so eat drink and be merry. Just don’t leave mother unattended outdoors again, particularly on the Fourth of July.