The 4th Of Course

 

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I tried to take a long walk this morning, even as the intermittent rain came to say hello. It was foggy and misty and felt like an abandoned world. Most of the houses were quiet, shuttered against last night’s war-like barrage of amateur fireworks. I didn’t find any bloody fingers or stick-impaled eyeballs, which surprised me, given both the age and impaired decision-making from last night’s festivities. Some of the house sidewalks and streets were littered with the corpses of hundreds of dollars worth of explosives. When you live in certain neighborhoods, it is pointless to expect anyone to be sensible about such things. A few of the houses looked like a party had been mysteriously vacated, with all the attendees dropping their beverage cans on the ground, leaving their fireworks in the grass and scattered on the sidewalk.

Last night, I watched the children a few houses down. Though this is Arkansas, I was surprised by the level of shenanigans these kids were exhibiting. It’s hard to surprise me about anything firework-related, as I was one of those kids who had access to literally any fireworks being made. When I was young, we had bottle rocket and Roman candle wars and there was no dare or challenge which went unaccepted when the 4th rolled around.

I always overcome my old-age sensibilities about fireworks. If someone blows off a hand, I will rush out and help them but it is a losing battle to try to curtail fireworks in residential neighborhoods unless one’s house is set on fire. (PS: But I’ll keep the hand as a souvenir.) All things considered, the 4th of July is good for the ER business.

The noteworthy event this morning was the older car which drove by without any lights about 5 minutes into my walk. Whoever was driving didn’t understand the fundamentals of a clutch, either. I could hear both the horrible sounds of grinding metal and the circus-like beat of Norteño music, one of the few genres which holds no appeal for me. About 100 feet past me, the car ran up onto the curb and stalled. A man exited the car and stumbled around to the back as if looking to see how far up on the curb he had driven. He stumbled back and it seemed like his head bounced off the car door as he bent and dropped back into the driver’s seat. I laughed, which probably demonstrates something about my character. The car revved and the clutch screeched as the car jumped off the curb and back into the road. Just as I was about to cringe from observing an impending collision with a car on the wrong side of the wrong, the mysterious car veered back into the middle of the street and kept moving. Instead of succumbing to my curiosity, I turned and walked the other way. I’m assuming the driver made it to wherever he thought he might be going. For my part, I didn’t feel like being a reluctant witness to a property damage report this morning.

In so many ways, the early morning of the 4th is like New Years Day: most of the world is sleeping and momentarily ignorant of whatever bad decisions were made the night before.

One of these days, I’m going to buy several 1,000 or 10,000 pack firecrackers and light them in random places across the neighborhood at about 5 a.m. I’ll choose the houses which have piles of volcanic grenades and fireball launchers left on the public sidewalk or in the street. It’ll be hard for those hypocrites to complain as I laugh at them when they groggily open their doors or peer through their windows, cursing. I did this more than once when I was younger and as mean as it might sound, it never failed to elicit a laugh, even from the ‘victim,’ although the mirth on their part always came later. (“It’s hard to laugh when you’re wearing a bathrobe.”)

Being old has its advantages. I might not stay up to watch the fireworks (which coincidentally look like every preceding firework display ever made), but I will get up at my normal hour to conduct my own fireworks display in your front yard, should you choose to fire off enough explosives to launch a war in the Middle East.

PS: When I was young, I saw the national fireworks display and a few years later got to sit at the literal edge of an ill-advised display at Lake Atalanta, inside the launching perimeter. It’s hard for anything to ‘wow’ me after those.

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