Sometime during our early teenage years, Chris, Tole and I over-heard Someone Who Should Have Known Better mention that it was legal to produce 200 gallons of beer or wine per year for personal consumption.
You know what was going to happen next.
Unfortunately, this was sometime before the existence of the World Wide Web, and if you needed to research something -- say, the origin of wine or beer -- you had to go down to the library and start paging through books.
Normally, I am all for a relaxing day in the library, hunting down stray facts, but after a couple of days, we began to suspect that maybe the Chief (and only) Librarian in Small Town Shi'a Baptist, Texas might have been a bit remiss in the ordering of books that might detail the manufacture of Demon Rum.
So. We had a brain-storming session in the living room, pooled our intellectual resources on the subject of Booze, Production Of; and decided that we probably needed some juice, some yeast, one was probably supposed to go into the other ... and then we'd wing it from there.
We pedalled furiously down to the corner store, announced that we were in the middle of an experiment; bought a gallon jug of apple juice and a three-pack of bakers yeast; and pedalled back to the house with our booty.
Once back at our house, we poured a packet of yeast into the apple juice, decided that we had an awful lot of juice, emptied the other two packets in, screwed the lid down good -n- tight and hid the jug in the pantry.
Four days later, during our after-school observation of our proto-booze, we discovered that fermentation produces CO2. A lot of it. CO2 that desperately wants to be somewhere else -- and a firmly screwed-down lid doesn't slow it down much.
The effect following the sudden *POP* of the cap is best described as a Fountain of Fermentation.
Manky apple juice everywhere. Ceiling. Walls. Floor. Shelves. Cans of foodstuffs. Oh, and us.
Two hours of mopping and sponging up apple fermentation in an unventilated itty-bitty little room later, we pedalled -- slightly unsteadily -- back down to the corner store, announced that we had exp-, expushr-, hexpear-, had a bit of a problem with the thingy and re-stocked our supplies.
A nice gentleman who had been coughing in line behind us insisted that we accept a ride back to the house in the back of his pick-up and, as he dropped us off, mentioned -- apropos of nothing -- that some experiments needed to breathe -- through a tube was best -- and that the addition of a quarter cup of sugar was never a bad thing. In some experiments.
Tube, hell. After we dumped the yeast and sugar into the gallon jug of apple juice, we bunged the jug -- sans lid -- under the kitchen sink. And waited.
After about ten days the bubbling and frothing stopped. In our gallon jug, we had ... stuff.
The bottom of the jar looked remarkably like the bottom of a cattle tank. The top looked somewhat like the surface of a peat bog. And in between the two was ...
... a thriving colony of sea-monkeys.
Not the sea-monkeys that you saw advertised in the back of comics books at the time. Not Mr. and Mrs. Sea-Monkey and the babies with the crowns and the lunch-pails and the castle in the back-ground.
No. These bore a striking resemblance to the demonic, mutated, sub-aquatic, ninja-SeAL alien sand-fleas that the lying bastards sent you after you mailed them the [deleted] coupon and your hard-earned money THINKING you were going to get Mr. and Mrs. Sea-Monkey!
We stared at the swimming thingies for a while, and then Chris said, "I don't think anyone's going to want to drink this."
I ventured that maybe if we didn't tell anyone about the presence of the ... only to be interrupted by Tole stating, "We don't have to tell anyone about them. I think they're more than capable of announcing that fact on their own."
"Okay," sez me, "What if we strain out the scum and algae and thingies?"
"Straining may get the bugs, but do you think they crawl out of the jug to go to the bathroom, or do they do the deed right there?" snarked Chris, Master of the Bad Mental Image.
"Wait, wait, wait," said Tole, "What if we strain it, then distill what's left? Purified, right? No sea-monkeys, no sea-monkey leavings."
Story to be finished tomorrow. Or sometime.