Crack, thud, boom. Here we go again.
At the risk of sounding like the Grinch of Independence Day, I really hate fireworks. I hate the bottle rockets and roman candles, the smoke bombs and spinners, the fountains and the flares. Most of all, I hate the fuses which always seem to provide one second less than you need to make a clean getaway.
I’ll admit–it might be a hangup.
The street I grew up on was a war zone every Fourth of July. Sparklers were used for poking and proding people smaller than you, bottle rockets were typically pointed in horizontal directions, and smoke bombs were never lit until about one second before you stuffed them in your buddy’s pocket.
Then one year I accidentally set my sister’s hair on fire, and I have never enjoyed fireworks since. She got better, but now every July she makes sure to keep at least one state between us.
Disliking fireworks is a problem for me because my job as a cop sometimes requires me to monitor fireworks use, especially on the Fourth of July. Up until this year I have always worked the Fourth, a holiday that requires most cops to show up to keep the lid on the city. So, rather than enjoy a twenty minute display of dazzling pyrotechnics over the water and calling it a night, my colleagues and I usually spend the night running from one bottle rocket fiasco to the next.
Having just returned from Vancouver, I can tell you that the Canadians celebrate their own version of Independence Day a lot more quietly. Canada Day, July 1, is mostly spent going to BBQ’s, beaches, and staged events dressed in red and sporting a maple leaf. The only fireworks you’re likely to hear are from the spectacular show performed over the downtown waterfront. It is a peaceful holiday, and I wish it were that way back home.
Back in the states fireworks are everywhere. They are sold online by U.S. Fireworks, outside supermarkets by scout troops, and on Indian reservations at stands with ironic (and moronic) names like “Ill Eagle.” A further irony is that these sales are most often legal, despite the fact that in many cities it is either a civil infraction or crime to use the majority of these products. For those who want some ka- in their boom, the phrase ”If it goes up or blows up, it’s illegal” doesn’t leave much in the way of entertainment.
Worst of all is the fact that fireworks usage has morphed from an Independence Day event to a season (much like political campaigns). Somewhere around mid-June the first bogus “shots fired” call hits the police frequency, and from that point on it’s noise, noise, noise. By July 10th I feel like a stressed out puppy left in the backyard during an electrical storm.
But, for the record, I’m not suggesting we do anything about it. That’s because fireworks and the Fourth of July are a symbiotic relationship forged in history and etched in our memories…mostly with gunpowder.
So why would I suggest we change the way we celebrate Independence Day? Even a stressed out puppy knows when he’s been licked.