Friday, January 06, 2006


Fireworks + My Friends = Bad

Fireworks, inherently, are not bad. Think of all of the joy professionally done, and even sensibly done shows by reasonable amateurs have brought. The worst thing about fireworks is the potential for operator error. Usually brought on by excessive amounts of liquid courage.

Why did my friends and I love fireworks so much? The same reason people climb’s there, and they don’t have the common sense to come up with a better idea.

I feel sorry for guys who grow up in states where fireworks are illegal unless used by “licensed professionals.” These guys will never know the thrill of realizing approximately twenty seconds too late that they have just made a very bad, and possibly life changing decision. By life changing, I don’t mean winning the lottery or finding Jesus, although that could quite possibly be the final outcome (my guess is he’s hiding in the crawlspace,) I mean life changing as in adjusting to only having three fingers and half a thumb.

On a side note, I think it’s neat how the people working at fireworks stands are almost always smoking, and how these stands are usually located in close proximity to a gas station. I think of it as potential for natural selection. Apparently they haven’t made the connection between an open flame, objects that, when lit, tend to fly in unpredictable directions at high rates of speed before exploding, hundreds of gallons of an extremely volatile substance and massive, life-ending, Earth-scorching explosions yet. I hope I’m not around on the day that they do, but I do hope to catch it on the evening news. Preferably in high definition, Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

This story actually doesn’t have much to do with fireworks, but it’s still pretty amusing (I really have to work on focusing on one subject at a time.) My friend Kyle was minding his own business one day, when an acquaintance of his asked what happened to all of the fireworks stands in the off season. Let me take a minute here, for those of you unfamiliar with the fireworks stands in South Carolina, to explain. The majority of them are temporary roadside stands set up during peak times (Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Arbor Day, Boxing Day, Tuesday, etc.) These stands, in addition to being temporary, are also usually trailers that can be hitched up and towed away easily (which makes me wonder if anyone has ever stolen one...which makes me wonder if my '99 Mitsubishi Galant has that kind of towing power). Kyle, just for kicks, informed her that there was a large fireworks stand storage facility near Bamberg, South Carolina. He, of course, was making this up. She got excited and said she would love to see that sometime. I’m not entirely sure if Kyle ever took her there or not. I'm thinking that's more of a second date type of venue.

Now, back to the subject at hand. Why I, or anyone who has ever spent more than an hour with me, should be forbidden to handle fireworks. Even sparklers. I can still remember the day that one of our stupidest traditions of all times began. I’m not sure of the year, but I know I was still in high school. It was July 4th, and everyone had chipped in ten to twenty dollars to buy an obscene amount of fireworks. There was a new neighborhood under construction near one of our usual hangouts, so we decided the middle of the street in the new neighborhood (there were no houses yet) was the best place to shoot the fireworks. A few hours passed, and we had gotten tired of shooting fireworks when inspiration struck one of us.

Why not put all of the remaining fireworks in a brown paper bag, add some gasoline, and torch the bag? I know, this sounds just like the people I made fun of at the beginning, but there is one major difference: we knew this was a bad idea, we just didn’t care. Keep in mind that most of us, having survived worse (we're not terribly bright), and probably under the influence of malted hops, were relatively certain that we were immortal.

The bag immediately sprang to life, whistling, flashing, popping, and shooting flaming projectiles in all directions. We all ran for cover, except for Ashley. Ashley ran directly towards the bag, intending to leap over it in a show of bravado. In midair, he took a Roman Candle to the crotch, turning a daring stunt into a contender for one of those crappy televisions shows. However, having seen Ashley do it with little more than his pride hurt, and an interesting scorch mark to explain to Mom on laundray day, we all took off towards the bag, one after another, until the bag stopped or we were all on fire. I can't remember which.

I wonder what would happen if you filled a pinata (I'm thinking one in the shape of a donkey) with fireworks (a cocktail of bottlerockets, whistlers, and something with some stopping power) and lit it at my house for Cinco de Mayo.

Fireworks aren't the only thing we love so much, gasoline seems to tickle our fancy when we've had to much "liquid courage." i.e., bonefires, driveway fires, fire on individuals trucks, fires in my great uncles pasture that had to be put out by the fire department, fires at national historic places...etc.
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