Murphy the Arsonist


Murphy’s Law: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.

Murphy’s Law for military wives: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong when your husband is downrange.

Murphy comes in many shapes, sizes and forms. Murphy likes to morph, teleport, divide and conquer, and generally be the way in which ‘battle testing’ comes to those of us who signed up for the military lifestyle by marriage. Murphy has a few favorites; pay issues, illness or injury (especially of children), house problems, etc.

While the wide array plagues us all, a few of us have a specific form in which Murphy appears. For one of my friends, it is water. Any plumbing problem or flood and she has been through it. Another is a wind girl– a true tornado magnet. If you have any land or “earth” form of Murphy, let me know so I can assemble some groovy outfits and form a band. My form of Murphy is FIRE.


Yes, for me Murphy is an arsonist. If you’ve known be since 2007, you’ve probably borne witness to at least one of these incidents. Even before the military reordered my world, I was in a bus fire on a mission trip to New Orleans. At that moment I realized how ridiculous the “if you can save 2 things in a fire…” question is. I grabbed my sister. I forgot my shoes. Twice. Sorry- I time traveled to 2007 just then.

In 2007, less than 2 months after I married Hubby, he left for Fort Benning, Georgia. He jokingly said, “Don’t burn the house down.” For the whole story, you can check out this blog.

NOT my fault, by the way. It was Murphy…and the neighbors 4 units down. Then we moved to Korea and my inability to read in a foreign language caused a little fire from the stove which melted a cutting board. At this point, I didn’t realize I was a target for Arson Murphy.

Then we moved to Fort Benning. Here we lived on post in great houses that abutted beautiful pines…which had to come down for road expansion. For 6 months the trees were cut down and burned. Holy pollen and smoke attacks, Batman. Not too bad though, right?

With a 5 week old baby in the backseat Hubby, Mom and I traversed the nation from Georgia to Arizona. We arrived to find that wildfires had devoured miles of post and many homes in the mountains. The fire was making its way to the neighborhood where we rented a house. As I ran to Wal-Mart for diapers, Hubby signed for all our household goods in time to have emergency vehicles come over the loudspeaker saying, “Move your moving van! This area must be evacuated!” I only wish I could have seen him picking up his overnight bag and running with our 15 year old black lab to his truck. As the flames consumed the ground literally up to our across-the-street-neighbor’s backyard, we reached safety. Firstborn was having breathing problems at this point, so I spent all night in a bathroom with steaming water flowing in order to keep him breathing. At this moment I realized Murphy was real, was an arsonist, and was trying to take down my child, Momma, my dog… and quite frankly, I got really angry. When I looked out from our hotel, our neighborhood looked like this:


Our saga continued another week, complete with tow trucks, thickly accented, “There’s a BAY-BEE involved!”, and meeting the neighbors from the backseat of a police car, holding a baby in a carseat.

So then we moved to North Carolina. We’d been here a year and had our share of housing problems and Murphy attacks, but no fire. It just waited…quietly… and I’d wondered if the curse had been broken by our flood or if maybe having the house struck by lightning counted.

Then we moved and I thought maybe the new dishwasher’s heating element bending down and burning into the plastic until the whole thing melted counted as the fire.

Now I know that the answer is resoundingly, NO.

Now that Hubby has reached his destination, I can tell you the tale of this year’s Deployment Day.

After a sad but now routine goodbye, the boys and I hugged Daddy and bid him farewell until 2014. As I pulled into the driveway I thought to myself, “I should hide all the matches and lighters, just in case.” I smiled to myself, pulled into the driveway, unloaded the boys, and walked into the house. Immediately, Firstborn ran for the pantry and as it was past lunchtime, I started to make a PBJ. With a kid ramming my leg like a shark, I started to spread peanut butter when the phone rang. 800 number… odd. Still, when the husband is gone, even if he is still in country, you answer it.

“Hello?” ( Wham of a toddler’s head into an elbow from excited jumping)

“Hello, I am calling from your security alarm company. We’ve received a call about a fire alarm and the Fire Department has been dispatched to your home.”

Good Lord. Murphy!

I checked the clock. I had not even been home 5 minutes.  Fast work, Murph.

Thankfully, when the woman said the address I realized it was NOT my current home, but the home we had rented. Although we cancelled service, we will apparently receive calls for up to 90 days when alerts come through. Oy. After a ‘no mea culpa’ kind of conversation, I called a former neighbor to give her notice that everything was (hopefully) fine, but to put on some lipgloss and start doing some gardening because some firemen were headed her way. Hey, sisters need to look out for the single ladies. The last time the FD boys showed up I thought the 2013 calendar team was on duty. If my girl across the street suddenly has a grease fire in the kitchen, I’m not judging.

I left a message for Hubby which he received shortly after. Then I called a girlfriend who has the Water Murphy. In fact, her toilet had just broken… and her Hubby left only hours before. Dangit Murphy! “So, when it comes to things going wrong, what Army Curse gets me every time?” I asked as soon as she answered. “Oh, NO. Fire. Honey, didn’t he JUST leave? What happened already?!”

As I talked to both my mother and mother in law, all I had to say was, “So, something funny happened…” and they both said, “Not a fire, right?”

Well, at least I get points for predictability. A veteran Army wife has threatened to send me a fire extinguisher for a housewarming gift. A good friend gets you something you need. (I do have one in the house currently. Fear not.)

So now I have two little guys as Murphy liabilities. I’m not sure either one would effectively warn me about a fire. One is barely mobile and the other stops, drops, and rolls every 3 minutes. They are as much a risk as a help. They are my own little minions.


(Firstborn at 4 weeks old)

So I can only guess that a fire drill would be like the scene from Despicable Me 2.


Presently,  life is continuing at its break-neck pace and I am trying to keep us fed, bathed, sane, and from going up in flames. I think that this deployment’s theme song will be “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” For now we are doing very well, but stand by for news. The deployment is young and Murphy is an Arsonist.



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