Monday, July 04, 2005

Boom! Pow! Eeeee..... YEAAAHGGH!

Ah, the fourth of July! The time which we celebrate our Founding Fathers fighting for our rights, for our freedom, for our liberty, by not being able to shoot off fireworks.

It’s no fair, I used to complain. The Founding Fathers got their independence using fireworks, why can’t WE! Of course, their fireworks consisted more of cannonballs than bottlerockets, but the point remains: While it’s okay to burn the flag, it’s not okay to shoot the flag up into the air, and have it explode into a dozen sparking plumes.

The law was enacted in Spokane, Washington because a special interest group known as “Firefighters” started whining about all the “fires” that fireworks were setting.

That’s why they’re called fireworks! If you want to see ‘waterworks’, Mr. or Mrs. Joe Firefighter, call the Sewage Treatment plant.

Putting out fires is what the Volunteer Fire Department gets paid for, for goodness sakes.

So, sure the “evidence” may “suggest” that fireworks may cause a few singed eyebrows, a few brush fires, a raging inferno here and there, maybe a few “deaths” for those too wussy to take a rocket to their socket, but consider this:

Fireworks are cool.

They’re loud, they’re invasive, they’re dangerous. Is there anything more American?

There was a time, a more innocent time, when we allowed the 4th of July equivalent of Urban Warfare. The next morning, there were *craters*. I love the smell of sulfur in the morning.

When I was child, however, I learned the sad truth about economic disparity. There are two types of Middle Class Families.

Those who spent their money, and families that were frugal. While the neighbors would be buying jet-skis, purchasing cars, eating at restaurants, and swiping their credit cards, we had this nefarious little thing called a “Savings Account.”

“I’m sorry kids,” my Dad would say, “But ‘Lunchables’ are a luxury.” So were fireworks.

So the firework display would unfold at my neighbors. They had everything, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, sliders, screamers, shriekers, yelpers, bellowers, M-80’s, SP350’s, Ak-47’s, Claymore Mines- and in the air! The heavens parted and rained down fiery vengeance. An apocalyptic clash of principalities and powers, unfolding before our trembling- and occasionally dodging- selves! The Rockets Red Glare! Bombs bursting in Air! Smoke on the Asphalt! Fire in the sky!

Meanwhile, in my backyard, my mother would be vigilantly warning us, “Careful with those sparklers kids! They may be sparkly, but they’re dangerous!”

That doesn’t mean we haven’t had some wonderful Fourth of July’s. Far from it. I will never forget our 4th of July, at Mount Rushmore, when- with the wondrous sculptures of some of the Greatest Americans majestically rising behind us- we were told that the Mount Rushmore firework display had been the day before. You know, because the 3rd of July is such a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. 4th of July’s Eve.

Most of our celebrations took place at our fireworks-legal lake cabin. One year, my father decided to throw caution to the wind, and really go all out! That year, we packed in the van, drove up to one of those sleazy firework shanties, and spent almost *25 bucks* on the ‘works. That included such favorites:

Sparklers- 4th of July, held in your hand. The major selling point of sparklers, if I remember, was that you could write your name with fire. Of course, you can do the same thing with a tank of lighter fluid and a nicely manicured lawn and to greater effect. Still, sparklers provide an ingenious- if unorthodox- highly-effective Q-tip. Just be sure to keep the emergency room on speeddial.

Bottle Rockets: The shriek of the bottle rocket is nothing compared of the shriek of the person who gets it shot into their eye.

The Worm: Yes, it is as exciting as the name indicates! Light this wonder of modern science, and watch Spontaneous Generation create a worm entirely out of ash! Keep the kids amused for hours! You know, the ones inside playing videogames.

The Tank: This was my favorite. This was actually a little tank, that when lit, simulated a tank controlled by a very disgruntled and underqualified tank crew. With a few LEGO men, you can teach your child about the history of Tienamen square.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom- The Firework: This was one of the big ones. It cost us four whole dollars. For the name, I was expecting a lot. Like maybe it would start out with a Ball of Fire rolling down towards us, and then change into a cracking whip, and the whole time be playing the firecracker version of the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was hoping that, if you looked directly at it, your face would melt. Instead the only thing in common that it had with the Temple of Doom was that it had a Short Round. *Rimshot*

Fortunately, the moment wasn’t entirely lost.

“We still have some Worms left, kids!” Dad said.

The kids: “Yaaaaay!”