Well, it’s that time of year – one of my favorites (after Christmas); the 4th of July and you know what that means.


I bought a family pack one night and we went on a pyrotechnic frenzy.

Thankfully, the kids are as enthusiastic as I am. I can remember living in Texas and later in California where fireworks were absolutely verboten. Not only that but the local news was filled with anti-bottle-rocket diatribes warning of entire neighborhoods going up in flames if one kid lit a sparkler. Well, there probably would have been firestorms there but it rains here occasionally, so our roofs aren’t the logical equivalent of kindling. Yet another reason to live here, eh?

This year, I found a new innovation. Fireworks don’t really change and I see the same things at the stands that I saw as a kid but this year: something different.

Depth Charges.

The package says “fuse burns under water!” Woo Hoo! They are basically firecrackers that you throw in the water. All boys dream of such things. Too bad there wasn’t a lake around but a big bucket works pretty well.

It occurred to me that the job of firework label writer must be the easiest job ever. All labels say the same thing: “Warning. Emits showers of sparks. Light fuse and get away. Use only under close adult supervision.” They should probably hire English speaking people to come up with name for the fireworks though. We continue to get things with names like: “Happy”, “Happiness”, “Happy Lamp”, “Zizz Bird Bang”, “Cluster Bee”, and other random strings of words. This year, some new names appeared though: “2 Cool” and my personal favorite – “Loud Little Sucker.” Needless to say, they all emit showers of sparks.

The body count amongst the little green plastic men and their tanks was pretty high.

Melissa doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for black powder-based entertainment (it’s a girl thing) but still wants to share the moments so she sat in a lawn chair and occasionally commented on the large number of mosquitoes. I was oblivious to them; they don’t like clouds of smoke.

Evan and I are like connoisseurs of fireworks. As the French are to their wine, so we are to our fireworks; with our own measures of merit as to quality, effect, bang for the buck, and so on. “This one has a nice ‘throaty’ boom whereas this one gives more of a sharp crack.”

And my children are, as yet, unburned. Why? Because I’m out there with them to caution against turning the fuse towards you when you light it, standing over things when you light them, and other common sense precautions. It’s something most Okies don’t bother with; prefering to stay inside and watch TV, occasionally sticking their heads out the front door to shout “Ya’ll ain’t burning anything down are ya?” And that, my friends, is why fireworks are illegal in many places; not enough adult supervision combined with isolated cases of outright stupidity. The solution of course, is to live in the south or Midwest where there are fewer laws that attempt to protect us from our own stupidity; preferring to let Darwin’s laws run their course.

To our detractors I say: “What are you? Some kind of communist?”

Last night, we had the complete July 4 experience: family, grilled burgers, watermelon, high carbohydrate snacks, and black-powder-based entertainment. Not my fireworks though; they were long gone. Neither I nor my kids are mature enough to have the patience to wait till the actual day. The neighbors thoughtfully provided some though and apparently spent a great deal more money than I did. It was like going downtown to watch the “big” show. This morning, the street was littered with the blackened detritus like a battleground. Unfortunately, I had to get up and go to work this morning. Why do they ever have the 4th of July on Wednesdays anyway?

Yes, I know why!