My immigrant husband didn’t think when he first moved
to the States that one of his most favorite American
holidays would be the Fourth of July. But just like
any red-blooded American, my husband has succumbed to
the inevitable lure of…pyrotechnics.
I think that deep down we are all pyromaniacs, men especially! It started with the discovery of fire and went straight from Campfire 101 to How To Build A Better Rocket.
Do you know why they invented sparklers? So kids would have something to do on the Fourth of July because, just like at Christmas, Dad takes over and has all the fun while the kids look on and beg Mom to please intervene.
“Dad, I just want to try–.”
“No, wait! Just one more!”
“But, Dad, I want to…”
“No, no, no, not that one — it’s mine! It’s too big for you!”
“Mom, Dad isn’t sharing!”
“Shhhh! Here, take this sparkler…”
What is it about fire and explosives that make men turn into giddy boys? You wouldn’t think that “giddy” was a suitable description for the male of our species, but once you see a full-grown wild-eyed man run down the street clutching an armload of explosives, with a lit sparkler clamped in his teeth, “giddy” doesn’t sound so far off the mark.
It’s like Halloween for them, and every trick is a treat.
So finally the kids are old enough to set off a few groundworks. It’s like finally getting your driver’s license. This is when fathers and children really begin to bond, and start experimenting with the groundworks. Suddenly, displays screech down the street and get trapped under the neighbor’s car, spinning groundworks become “shooting stars” that accidentally land on the roof, and there’s no such thing as “too loud.”
I think my own dad has the record for number of “Whistling Petes” he’s set off at one time. I know, because neither of us hears very well since I was eight-years old.
There’s something very satisfying about a screech so loud that it changes and begins to sound like a moaning zombie. And then utter silence. And that’s not because the show is over – there’s just no eardrum left.
Every year we say that we’re ONLY going to spend twenty dollars and we come home with…half the inventory. Then we all gather around the crate of explosives and drool over the contents.
One year we got one the size of a small keg. You’d think that a groundwork like this would be the most spectacular of all. You save it for last, light it with great expectations and then the whole family leans to the left to watch a twenty-foot horizontal fountain — because of the wind.
This year when you celebrate, please remember that less is more, follow all the safety rules and have a great time. Happy Independence Day!