“We Are Not Mr. Obvious”

Nineteen years ago, on December 29, two families were alone in their relatives’ house in the mountains. This is the story of what happened, told by eyewitnesses Scott and Stacy Hawkins and Chuck and Vikki Walters, and commented on by Scott Snyder (who wasn’t there). 

Scott H: “Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” 

Stacy: “We need to start at the very beginning.” 

Vikki: “Yes. In 2001, the whole family came together for Christmas in Tennessee, maybe twenty-four people, in my parents’ house. Afterwards, everyone left, except for our two families. Scott and my sister Stacy had five children, Chuck and I had four, so nine young kids. And their four responsible parents—” 

Scott H: “Well… two responsible parents…” 

Scott S: “So what were you and Chuck doing at your parents’ house?” 

Chuck: “We were enjoying each other’s company. The two bone-headed sons-in-law.” 

Vikki: “Yeah, so our parents were away on the weekend.” 

Scott H: “It was freezing!” 

Vikki: “There was some snow and ice on the ground.” 

Stacy: “Our parents have always had trouble with their water. We were leaving the next day, and there wasn’t even enough water to take showers.”

Chuck and the infamous gift boxes


Scott H: “That afternoon, Chuck and I were emptying ashes from the fireplace so we could start a new fire. For some reason, we decided to empty the ashes— embers, maybe—into a paper bag. I remember Chuck saying, ‘This one’s still kind of aglow!’”

Scott S: “Wait, we’ve got to back up. You’re cleaning the fireplace, and you’re thinking ‘What do we put this in?’ and so naturally you find paper bags…”

Chuck: “Right.” 

Stacy: “That’s not the worst part, believe it or not.”

Scott S: “Okay, so back to the part where you’re shoveling hot coals into a paper bag…” 

Scott H: “Is that where we lost you?” 

Chuck: “Why are we going back over this?” 

Scott H: “So, yes. The two of us shoveling feverishly… uh, hot, glowing coals… We rolled the bag up, and as I recall, I’m the one who took it outside.” 

Vikki: “Oh, yes.”

Scott H: “And where else would I put the bag of coals…but on the stack of gift boxes…against the side of the wooden house?”

Chuck: “The wood siding, yes.”

Scott S: “Were there any fuel cans nearby?”

Scott H: “If there were, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.”

Scott S: “Because they were under all the paper, of course.”

Stacy: “Yeah, exactly.” 

Vikki: [crying from laughter]

Scott H: “This still deeply affects Vikki, as you can see. But these are tears of joy.” 

Chuck: “You’ll understand in a second when we get to her part.” 

Scott H: “So… yeah, we did whatever you do with little kids, fill them up with Benadryl or something like that, some narcotic, and put them to bed. After that, we start watching the movie Gladiator. And, I mean, it’s freezing.”

Chuck: “Yes, it’s freezing. There’s no more water.”

Stacy: “The hoses are frozen…”

Scott H: “Right! No more water! And we all know this! So there we are, enjoying our movie and popcorn, and at some point, I noticed in my peripheral vision something flickering… For a second, I thought it was a reflection of the movie. Then I turned to the little window looking outside at where I’d put the, uh, hot embers in that paper bag on top of the gift boxes next to the wood house. Yes. And I saw, running across the window, little flames. We all saw it almost simultaneously. So time stands still at that moment. It’s like the earth just stopped rotating.”

Vikki: “I think Stacy screamed ‘fire’—” 

Scott H: “Actually… that was my voice.”

Chuck: “I jumped up as fast as I could, whipped the door open, and knocked the burning stuff away.”

Scott S: “Had you been trained to do that, Chuck? I mean, I know they have fire drills at school, but do they have some kind of fire-removal-off-the-side-of-the-house class that you ever did well in, or…?”

Chuck: [Laughing] “Yeah, yes.” 

Scott H: “I just dropped and rolled, you know?”

Scott S: “So you were just rolling around on the floor…” 

Scott H: “Yeah, like, ‘This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, this isn’t happening!’”

Stacy: “So the fire got knocked into the snow, and then Chuck stomped it, thankfully. Because again, we had no water.”

Scott S: “Chuck, what kind of things were going through your mind while you were stomping the fire? Were you singing Christmas carols, maybe?”

Chuck: “No, not Christmas carols, ‘This Little Light of Mine’!” 

Scott H: “Have you ever seen those commercials where they do something silly and they wish they could get away? Yeah, so… at that point…”

Stacy: “Scott packed up all the kids and left.”

Scott H: [Joking] “I felt a calling to do missionary work somewhere…” 

Chuck: “We realized I was going to be the one to tell Vikki’s dad to his face, because you were leaving town the next day!” 

Scott H: “See, this is where the Bone-Headed Son-in-Law Award came in. Chuck and I were always vying for it—” 

Stacy: “They shared it that year.” 

Vikki: “After the fire was out, I was so scared all night because we didn’t have water… I just didn’t believe it was out. I hardly slept at all.”

Chuck: “I slept like a baby.”

Scott S: “So Vikki has PTSD, and Chuck’s sleeping like a rock…” 

Chuck: “I should’ve taken her downstairs and showed her that the fire was out.”

Scott H: “You could’ve spit on it!” 

Chuck: “So, later we called Vikki’s dad. I told him we’d pay for the damage, but he said he’d take care of it.” 

Scott H: “Something about ‘I want it done right’.”

Chuck: “They ended up fixing it later, and there was no evidence of a fire at all. It looked perfect!” 

Scott S: “Have either of you ever been able to be around flames with your family again? Do your wives allow it?”

Stacy: “Not near the house.”

Scott S: “What about on the Fourth of July? Do you have to stand far away?”

Scott H: “Yeah, we don’t even get to hold the matches…”

Chuck: “We just observe.”

Scott S: “And paper bags have probably never been in the house either, right?”

Scott H: “Oh, no, I haven’t seen a paper bag in years.” 

Scott S: “All of the young men reading this story will be enjoying it…”

Scott H: “They need to take note and beware, there’s a right way and a wrong way to clean out the fireplace. I mean, how is it even possible for two grown men to do something like this?”

Chuck: “We are not Mr. Obvious.” 

Scott H: “Yeah. Hey, that’s good title material, there! Either that or ‘Dumb and Dumber’.”

Me: “Thank you for this story!” 

Everyone: “You’re very welcome!”




Photo Credit: Donna Turley


  1. I like I might’ve just died of laughter right now, kids watch and learn, watch and learn. ????

  2. Naomi Hochstedler

    This is hilarious! Gj Abby XD

  3. LOLL oof, this was so funny XD

  4. Love this! This isn’t a true story, right?

  5. We missed all the fun!