There was a raccoon problem at Victor’s fraternity at Cornell.  Every night an enormous raccoon raided the fraternity’s garbage and made a huge, annoying mess.  The raccoon lived in a sewer pipe.  Victor always enjoyed solving problems, so he told his fraternity brothers that he would handle the raccoon problem.

His plan was to make a little bomb that he would place in the opening of the sewer, which would explode, making a large noise thereby frightening the raccoon into moving closer to some other fraternity.  Ba-boom, the garbage problem would be solved.
(I don’t have any college pictures, but this is his senior picture from High School.  He didn’t look much like this once he started college.  Imagine the same face but with a really big blond afro, bloodshot eyes and no tie.)

Victor set up shop for his bomb making in the fraternity’s living room.  He had an empty Old Spice deodorant stick container made of plastic.  He emptied ten M80s of their gunpowder and poured it all in the Old Spice container. Since the top needed to be sealed, he thought that sealing the top with wax sounded like a good idea. He found a candle and lit it.  As the wax melted it dripped slowly onto the top of the gunpowder.  All was going according to plan until Victor saw a tiny flame slowly follow the dripping wax down into the gunpowder.

There was a large explosion.

All the windows in the living room blew out.

Victor was bleeding profusely seemingly from everywhere on his body.

He thought he should wash off all the blood, so he took a shower. Meanwhile, his brothers called an ambulance.  When it arrived the ambulance rushed him, sirens wailing, to the hospital.  Victor had copious injuries, since the plastic Old Spice container had exploded into innumerable shards, which embedded themselves in a random pattern inside Victor.

The doctors removed about a dozen of the largest shards of Old Spice container, suturing up those wounds and then quite a few more from which he was still bleeding.  Victor’s eyebrows and eyelashes had to grow back since he no longer had any.  His hair was singed off above his forehead. He stayed the night in the hospital and returned to the fraternity with an astonishing number of nascent scars.

If you ask him, he will let you feel the lumps of Old Spice plastic which to this day he bares internally in two locations in his right arm, one in his face and several in his chest.

The fraternity still had a raccoon problem.


Comment by jmb |Edit This
2009-01-22 11:07:44

College stories are the best stories aren’t they?

I dont think kids make deodorant bombs anymore and in a sense, what a shame.

I’ve got scars along my arm from a pesticide in a trash can fire bomb.

Good times.

Bon voyage friend!

Comment by Laurie |Edit This
2009-02-03 08:36:15


Seems to me I’ve heard this story. A very believeable Victor tale. Better not talk about this one in the airports.

Must run. We’re off to Mexico. Enjoy Africa.


Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-02-03 10:05:20

But, Laurie, have you felt the plastic?

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 11:36:05

James Michael Blaine,
I am so impressed! A pesticide burn from a trash can fire bomb.
Those were the days, my friend.

(I’ll take lots of pictures.)

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-01-22 11:52:55

Well, I should have called Victor when I had the roof rats. Think of all the money I could haved saved. Probably enough to go with you to Africa. Yes. Really. Take pictures of the elephants for me.


Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 12:35:21

I already have Indian elephant pictures I can show you, but I’ll get African ones too.
I think Victor is out of the bomb-making business now. You’ll have to come up with a new plan for rat evacuation.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 14:07:23

I just checked the itinerary and one of the journeys we take is on elephant back. Another is on camel back. I hope I have a smaller elephant than I did in India, cause I had to do a side split to sit on him and it really hurt, my not being as limber as I used to be and all.

Comment by Melissa |Edit This
2009-01-27 12:01:38

I like elephants,,, camels,,,, not so much. Camels are nasty spitting animals.
Giraffes I like also, maybe because I have always wanted a long slender neck,but have been stuck with this short chubby turtle neck I have.
Have a great time Irene, I will keep things going at the hospital while you are gone, )


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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-27 15:34:51

I like giraffes too! I think everyone likes giraffes, though. I will do my best to get a good actual photograph of a giraffe. (Otherwise, I will buy a postcard with a picture of one for you.)

Love, Irene

Comment by ksw |Edit This
2009-01-22 12:42:21

just think, the ship that sails the ocean is sailing through victor’s body parts. at least his subcutaneous tissue will smell good.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 14:58:01

Oh, ksw,
You have to be of a certain age to understand that comment.
(I always thought it was why he never had objectionable body odor.)

Comment by Josie |Edit This
2009-01-22 12:43:43

Serves him right, trying to blow up a poor little critter like that – Dumping a bottle of Old Spice on the creature woulda been torture enough! lol

Take these well wishes, and take lotsa pictures

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 15:04:27

He never intended to harm the little fellow. He only wanted to frighten him so he would move to another set of garbage cans.

Old Spice used to be everyone’s Dad’s scent. Boys only used it for a short time when they were still trying to emulate their dads. Of course, that didn’t last too long after leaving the house. Everything Dad-related was pascutsva. (That is the phonetic rendering of the word for disgusting in Polish, I think. Victor’s uncle used to use it to describe Fernet Branca.)

I have a problem with taking lots of pictures, Josie. I have about 7,000 from India. I’m sort of nuts about pictures, (among other things.)

I am REALLY going to miss you guys!

Comment by Marcia (former next-door neighbor in Illinois and frequent visitor to Florida) |Edit This
2009-01-22 13:35:13

I thought Victor was born with bloodshot eyes. . .

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 15:05:55

Marcia, I can only attest to the time after which I knew him. He absolutely always had blood-shot eyes. I do imagine, though, that as a young child his eyes must have been more normal-looking.

Comment by Rob Bloom |Edit This
2009-01-22 13:43:04

Why don’t more stories begin with the line:

There was a raccoon problem at Victor’s fraternity at Cornell.


Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 15:09:15

He’s extremely fortunate that he didn’t sustain eye damage from his “solution” to the raccoon problem. I suppose he would’ve had to be something other than a Retinal Surgeon, in that case.

Unfortunately, our children seemed to have taken after the young, impulsive, risk-taking Victor, rather than the grounded, solid, risk-averse man he was to become.

Comment by Pamela Norinsky |Edit This
2009-04-01 01:08:16

To be young and not think about the consequences of making a bomb. Lucky Victor!!!

We, too had racoons enter our attic several times. The last time they set up house Ron(the husband) set up kleig(sp) lights and drove them crazy 24/7 till they decided to take up residence elsewhere!!! I must admit he was quite clever.

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Comment by Amy |Edit This
2009-01-22 14:32:26

Goes to prove that at one time in our lives we all think we are invincible.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 15:11:55

I’m pretty sure that victor was an exception to that rule. He felt he was invincible until he had his first child. Then he became the epitome of resolute solemnity.

Comment by Ben |Edit This
2009-01-22 14:36:51

So we are clear… our father who for years became silently, but palpably, enraged over the literal spillage of milk spent his former years blowing himself up, stabbing himself and frequenting prostitutes?

I wish I had known this stuff when I was a snarky teenager. It would have been far more valuable.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 15:13:31

Ben, why would we allow you this dangerous information until you could no longer use it?
You will do the same with your kids, when they come along. I promise.

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:12:22

what the hell makes you think we even NEED legitimate ammo against you guys anymore? i have no problem destroying you irrationally.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:17:27

The corruption of your standards of acceptable behavior has gone out of control.
You get no Valentine’s Day card from me this year, Missy!

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:29:21

or anyone else.
you heartless bitch.

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2009-01-23 01:26:42

Screw Valentine’s Day. I think we should all build bombs of our own and mail them out disguised as Valentines.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 05:00:43

They are totally kidding here, Homeland Security. This is what you call sarcasm. Our family is known for it, not for bombs. Ineptitude in bomb making to save garbage from a mega-raccoon and sarcasm. Okay, Homeland Security? Seriously.

(You’re not getting a Valentine’s Day card, either, Mister!)

Comment by Ben |Edit This
2009-01-23 11:15:25

We make no apologies.

Viva la revolution!

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-23 16:25:20

Okay Ben Guavara,

You are endangering the family here.

Think of your nascent children!

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2009-01-23 19:44:56

so many things i dont know about my father and my brothers and my sisters and my mothers

for instance i just found out i only have one mother

i dont recall ever getting a valentines day card from you mom
at least not recently
not that i want one really
i like holidays about eating food
candy i have a minor appreciation for

oh and did they teach you bomb making in the navy tim?
i know dad learned it on the hard core streets of nyc
i unfortunately never learned
woe is me

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 16:33:27

Lonny, I was so many places at one time that you probably thought that there were more than one of me. (That one was easy.)

You got plenty of Valentine’s Day cards, you ingrate, you just have no memory.

And. Just WHEN have I not fed you silly when you were here? HUH?

NOwadays, bomb making is a task you should not undertake. People watch you and then try you and then put you in jail. Dad’s was a sweeter, looser time.

Comment by Kate |Edit This
2009-01-27 14:48:24

I personally have no stories from my teenage years that could ever be used against me, much like my mother. Ben, on the other hand, has quite a few…

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-27 15:08:43

OH. Oh. Oh. Do tell, Kate, newest daughter of my heart!
Please. Do tell….

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2009-01-22 17:08:22

Your Timothy looks a whole lot like Victor. Last time I saw you both I remember thinking “well, that’s what Tim will look like when he gets some mileage on him.”

How does one person stab himself, blow up a bomb in his own hands, get hit by cars (and all the other things I hope you tell us about soon) and live to tell? I think we found our Superman folks. Victor Zion. Superman.

) Love you guys, have a safe trip. I am on the edge of my seat awaiting your after-trip photo collage.

Be safe,
Christine, the jew cat

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 17:20:56

Hi Christine!

Victor’s far from Superman now, but he did kick butt back in the day, oh yes he did. How he survived his schemes and misfortunes is a mystery to me. Maybe he was Superman for a while, but probably someone else has taken up the mantle.

Tim is the image of Victor at every age. It’s downright eerie.

Comment by Sara Zion |Edit This
2009-01-22 17:29:30


It is astonishing to me that someone as capable and as *not stupid* as my father could be such a moron.
I mean, *really.*

And normal people call exterminators, now, don’t they?
Even back in the day, there were exterminators.

I’m just saying: there’s an easy way and a hard way to do things.
I think that Dad is an expert at doing things “the hard way.”

He may have better stories, but I’ve never burned off my eyebrows or had Old Spice shrapnel wounds.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:10:15

Sara, maybe they didn’t have exterminators in Ithaca, New York back then.

Are you SURE you never burned off your eyebrows? No shrapnel wounds at all?

Well, you DID get hospitalized in Thailand for virulent food poisoning….

Give me some more time, I’ll come up with some “hard way” stories, Sara, I just can’t think of any right now. I’m sure it’s my memory. You probably screwed up all the time. (Yeah, that’s the ticket!)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:23:31

Sara, are you saying that Dad should have had this animal KILLED?
Some vegetarian you are!
Dad only wanted the poor critter to change addresses.
(HA! Got you there!)

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Comment by Adam |Edit This
2009-01-23 22:46:53

Normal people call exterminators, sure. But the truly brilliant among us get all Rube Goldberg on them varmints.

…Preferably without collateral damage to our persons, however.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 06:53:15

Yeah, Adam. That WAS the idea. He had ideas like this all the time but they usually worked.

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2009-01-22 18:01:00

Deodorant bomb.

I think I dated him once.

Comment by Lenore |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:11:29

how embarrassing for dad that he was in a fraternity. LOSER!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:19:16

At that time and in that place, it was what was done.
How are you going to put yourself in other people’s shoes in your practice, anyway?
Loser schmooser!

Comment by Tim |Edit This
2009-01-23 01:29:46

And you guys had “mixers” and shared a malt while listening to the rock and roll.

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Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 05:02:38

If it weren’t for Fat Harriet and the mixer, none of you would exist.
Put THAT in your malt and drink it!

Comment by lonny |Edit This
2009-01-23 19:47:17

mom what does that mean?

also just fyi i think i might have dated fat harriet once

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 06:54:27


What does WHAT mean?

You may have dated A fat Harriet, but you couldn’t have dated THE fat Harriet.

Comment by Kate |Edit This
2009-01-27 14:53:03

this is really more a response to tim, but i couldn’t comment on his comment.

i never heard of any malts or mixers going on; i only heard about the pig parties.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-27 15:11:44

Kate, do you even know what a malt is?
So innocent, you young ones are!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-22 19:13:51

You make me laugh out loud when I’m sitting here all by myself. I’d look like a total idiot if anyone were here.
Trust me, you’d’ve remembered Victor.
(After all, he was part plastic.)

2009-01-22 21:49:51

Ooh. Part plastic. I’m having sex outercourse with “him” right now.

I gotta get me one of Lenore’s pens.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 05:05:10

Oh God. I didn’t read Lenore’s post yet. Oh God. How horrible is it going to be this time? I have a baaaaad feeling if you’re speaking of outercourse, Kimberly.
Is 7 AM too early for a drink?

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2009-01-23 08:55:05

NEVER! Bloody Marys and Mimosas are all well and good, but a real woman will have shot of Maker’s Mark! )

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 11:06:07

I’m pretty sure I’m a real woman, but I just can’t drink anything brown. Maybe I’m a partial woman. I’ll bet I can drink you under the table with Sake, though!

Comment by Christine |Edit This
2009-01-22 21:36:16

I didn’t get the privilege of molesting his inner deoderant plastic shards. I’m offended. ;) Not really, I think my life could be complete without it, but you never know. Next time old man, next time!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 05:06:44

Victor is OFF-LIMITS to all people below the age of me. That means all of you. I think I’m going to vomit. “Molesting,” Christine? EEWWWWW!

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 05:41:18

Okay. I read Lenore’s blog.


Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2009-01-23 08:04:07

Oops. I read it. (giggle giggle)

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 09:53:56

Erika RAE,

You do NOT follow directions. Go stand in the corner!

Can no one STOP her?

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Comment by Erika Rae |Edit This
2009-01-23 08:05:31

At least he didn’t try and explode a squiggle wiggle pen. That might have been ugly if misused.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 09:55:42

Erika Rae,

I’m sure they didn’t exist back then. And how could you turn a squiggle wiggle pen into a bomb, anyway? You are allowing Lenore’s perversity to seep into your brain.
I warned you.

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2009-01-23 08:10:45

Let’s just be thankful that Victor’s parents never gave him a chemistry set. I hope.

I hope as well that you have a wonderful trip and I will miss your posts but I’m sure you’ll have some doozies when you return.

Did I miss something you posted in the past. Prostitutes?

p.s. Don’t read any more comments on Lenore’s last post. No reason.

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore’s Mom) |Edit This
2009-01-23 09:59:21

Victor’s parents DID give him a chemistry set. In fact he was a Chemistry major at Cornell. God only knows what else he’s done.

Thanks. I’ll take notes and pictures.

Prostitutes? Oh God. I’ll have to tell THAT story now after I return. (Sheesh!)

I know you are right, Autumn, but I am compelled to see just how embarrassing she can be to me. She WORKS at it, you know.

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2009-01-23 21:45:29

My p.s. about reading the comments on Lenore’s post, was just my ploy to try to keep you from reading what I wrote. I didn’t mean to imply you should stop reading altogether. Some things just don’t come across correctly when I am writing the way I would say something. )

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 07:00:19

But, Autumn, I always like to read what YOU write. It’s Lenore’s stuff that is giving me hives! Silly Rabbit.

Comment by Autumn |Edit This
2009-01-24 16:57:07

In the theme of being honest and up front with parents when we’re all grown up, while my sister and I were at my mother’s today, I broke it to her that it was my younger sister, not I, who first lost their virginity. In defense of my snitch like behavior, my sister was going on about what a well behaved and good child she was and how I was the corrupt one, and I had to set her straight. No harm done, just a shocked look and laugh from my mother.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 17:20:47

Well, Autumn, your sister obviously had it coming. I totally support you in snitching.

My kids only tell me things WWWAAAAYYYY after I can do anything about it.

e.g. Sara, oldest, called me from sophomore year at MIT. Exact dialogue:

(I have an extremely good memory.)

“Mom, remember when you wanted me to take piano lessons and I wouldn’t do it?”

“Uh huh.”

“Remember how you begged me and tried to bribe me?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well. You should have MADE me! I’d be playing the piano by now!”

Sara now hangs up phone. I am left looking at the receiver.

You get the drift….

Comment by Kyndra |Edit This
2009-01-23 18:03:34

Amazing story! Victor has more lives than a cat. Are you sure he’s mortal?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-23 19:37:13

He’s definitely mortal, Kyndra, on account of his aches and pains and the whole aging thing.
He could be a cat, though. I’ll think on that.

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2009-01-23 22:39:18

Leave it to a college boy to screw up a simple bomb.

My friend Bill and I were just recently musing over how few scars we came out of our preadolescence with, and believe you me, we worked with more lethal materials than deodorant canisters much of the time.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 06:56:42

You were the next generation.
You could probably get C-4 at the Ace Hardware store when you were a kid.
In Victor’s time it was all primitive.

So Adam, what DID you do, pray tell?

Comment by Adam |Edit This
2009-01-24 11:04:57

Look, we’ve got Ben and la revolución already. Let’s do no more to turn this forum into a metaphoric tree stand for DHS.

It’d be no good, anyway. These stories require at least one solid evening of drinking to tell right, complete with hand gestures.

Suffice it to say, it’s due more to luck than to genius that we don’t all walk and talk funny in our adulthood.

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Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 14:01:59

I agree, Adam, that hand gestures compliment the telling of stories like this, however, since I can’t be filmed reading my stories, I guess everyone has to supply the hand gestures that fit according to their imaginations. How sad.

I agree that luck pays a greater part than genius that we are all, each of us, basically in one piece.

Comment by Ursula |Edit This
2009-01-24 09:54:08

What stories you can tell. Embedded plastic, how were you able to keep that to yourself for so many years without your kids knowing. As to making bombs now, well it is a different story.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-24 14:04:25

ALL the kids knew this story. They can all probably tell you where the shards of deodorant plastic are located in their Dad’s body. It was a favorite “Look how stupid I was and don’t you be the same” story.
Lordy, but we had oodles of those!

Comment by Cayt |Edit This
2009-01-25 18:51:17

So, Victor is where they got it from? Or are there many scandalous stories that involve you that you have thus far neglected to tell us?

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-25 19:11:32

Cayt, my dear, I am pure as the driven snow….

Comment by donald |Edit This
2009-01-27 07:33:08

no i mean really….a superhero…maybe a mutant or something???

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-27 11:28:07

Oh Donald, I think you’ve got a hold on it now. He’s a mutant. That makes more sense than anything else I can come up with!

Comment by alex |Edit This
2009-01-29 17:25:08

wow dont like bombs and fire works either but im scared of victor is he indistructable a hidden superman well glad his okay im sure he didnt try that again or did he. Irene have a safe and fun trip we will miss you and please keep writing so i can read something once in a while besides the sports section and comics hahahahahahahaha

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-29 19:38:34

Alex, He was destructible. He was just really really lucky.

Thanks. I won’t write anything for a month while I’m in Africa, but then I’ll be armed with lots of stories. You won’t be able to shut me up!

Comment by Cecile |Edit This
2009-01-30 14:55:47

I am not sure if the actual story or the comments that followed were funnier!! This is mostly a family dialogue, but I can envision Victor doing everything you said because I continually hear college bomb making stories every time we go to a William and Mary reunion which has been for the last thirty-nine years, and every time it is the same tale. The difference between Ira’s tales and Victor’s are only in the details. Have a great trip and travel safely.

Comment by Irene Zion |Edit This
2009-01-31 07:10:52

Are you kidding, Cecile? Ira MUST comment on his college bombs! This bomb-making-for-fun thing must have been rampant in their days in college. Oh my but it was another time. Things are so scary different today. What a pity.

TAGS: , , , ,

IRENE ZION has been married to the same curmudgeon for 40 years. She has 5 children, none of whom sufficiently appreciates her. The one you probably know is Lenore, who frequently gives her mother hives. Irene paints oil portraits and makes her own frames. She has been described as an outsider artist. Most of her paintings creep people out, especially her family. She finds this to be greatly satisfying. She writes non-fiction for TNB and loves every minute of it. She is writing fiction now too, but is too chicken to show it to anyone. She has two golden retrievers who will inherit anything of worth she leaves behind. Her kids will delight in dividing up her famous cork collection and her notorious stockpile of bubble wrap.

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