“To be safe on the Fourth — don’t buy a fifth on the third.”
– James H. Muehlbauer
The above quotation was lifted from a tombstone. Let that be a warning.
Oh, I’m just kidding. It’s an epigram (which is just a fancy way of saying a fancy way for saying something clever, e.g. that). However, as our nation’s birth celebrates its 236th year, I would issue a word of caution to all you explosive experts out there who think that because you can work a lighter with a safety guard, it provides you clearance to ignite extremely volatile and dangerous combustibles.
As a child, we used to go to the beach every 4th of July with my best friend and his family. And every 4th of July, my father would load the car with fireworks that do more than your standard, fizzle, crackle, pop. The kind not comparable to a boisterous fart.
However, Oregon law prohibits any sort of firework that projects something into the air, and considering that we were in Oregon, we certainly had to sidestep this unlawful and unconstitutional restriction.
We gotta blow dem stuff up!
So gathering around our campfire on the cold, Oregon sand, our stash of pyrotechnics cleverly concealed beneath a pile of jackets, we waited for night to descend, which, on a cold Oregon beach, takes forever.
Now, my father doesn’t have much of an ego (well, not compared to Terrell Owens or Alexander the Great) but when it comes to fireworks, he wants to be known as having the biggest and baddest. So when a campfire down the stretch of sand released one mortar, my father released three cakes with twelve mortars each. And when someone else fired a cake themselves, my father summoned lightning.
Not less than thirty feet in front of us, my father would have seventeen fuses from twenty-two different fireworks all tangled and rolled and spun together like some mad villain’s unnecessarily large bomb plot. So when he lit the magic tip of the conjoined fuses, they all exploded.
This particular year, however, Officer Winston, the rookie policeman in the tiny town of Seaside, was sent to patrol the sands. And when Officer Winston discovered our stash of highly combustibles, he knew he was in over his head.
Especially when my best friend’s drunk and Scottish uncle gave his best William Wallace impersonation: “Frrreeeeeeeedddooooooom.” The trembling officer could barely remain upright. However, being that my father is the good man he is, he turned over his fireworks and even helped carry them to the police car.
Well, he turned over half of them. He may be good, but he’s also frugal. And he likes his bright lights and loud noises.
Later in the night, as we’re cleaning up and burning the excess cardboard, my friend throws an empty box in the fire. Actually, a half-empty box. There were still a dozen or so fireworks covered by an empty container.
In terror at the explosions manifesting right in front of my eyes, I scurry backward, only to trip and crank my wrist against a large rock (remember, these are the Oregon beaches, i.e. they suck).
With my father speeding me to the hospital—I think I’ve broken it—we, as you may have guessed, get pulled over by a police officer. And, as you’ve probably guessed again, it was Officer Stolinosky.
I’m just kidding. It was Officer Winston. But being the trepid and grateful man that he was, he let us go with the pass, and we were able to get to the hospital quickly. There, they diagnosed me with being a little wimp and recommended me a couple doses of man the hell up.
But in the end, everything worked out well. But barely. And if you aren’t careful this fourth, treat each second as if it’s your first.