Sunday, July 4, 2010

celebrating america by blowing up tiny pieces of china

I grew up kind of a pyro. I get it from my dad, and I remember one Fourth of July where he packed us three girls into a big Suburban with one of his friends and the friend's kids. Because bottle rockets had been banned from being sold in Montana, we had to drive ALL THE WAY TO WYOMING for them. Going without just wasn't really an option.

We came back with several hundred dollars of bottle rockets and other assorted colorful explosives. Us girls would shoot the little bottle rockets down the street out of our hands, and we'd use the old school snaps (the ones these days are disappointingly wimpy) as mini-grenades, putting holes in each others' clothing as we tried to tag each other. Dad created a few structures for firing bottle rockets, because some of them were far too big for any bottle to contain and aim. One was a five-gallon bucket with concrete in the bottom for stability, a lid, and a PVC pipe going through the lid like a straw. We'd light one up, drop it down the PVC, and stand back.

Despite fireworks being illegal in town, none of our neighbors ever reported us, because they were all out on their lawns in their chairs, enjoying the show. Families would drive over, and the pile of firecrackers grew and grew. Myers girls were the only non-adults allowed to work the propane torch, and we did so with panache. The smell of black powder, the fun of small, controlled explosions, the excuse of patriotism to validate starting things on fire... I just love it.

When I asked Rob how much I could spend on fireworks this year, he was pretty vague. "Spend it from your vacation savings," he hedged. Clever man. I'm eager to go to Hawaii, and he must have known that making me borrow from one fun thing to have another fun thing would rein me in. Blake and I went to my favorite local stand yesterday (they use all their earnings from fireworks to send their two kids to a local Christian school - I just think that's cool), and we went a little nuts. By the time we were done, he saw the tanks and began to ask for one of them, too, but I had to say no.

"We've spent my budget for the fireworks. I literally do not have enough cash on me to buy a tank, unless we put stuff back, and that gets really confusing. Maybe Papaw has a tank in his stash." The young man who'd helped us grabbed his dad to take the money (you have to be 18 or older to physically receive the money from these sales), and once the father realized that the big pile on the counter was all mine, he threw in a tank for free.

I called Dad, "Just wanted to inform you that I just dropped a hundred bucks on fireworks."

"Ha! Oh, Addie, I've got you beat by a long shot."

"I was counting on it. Rob's going to faint at my number, but what he doesn't realize is that I'm restraining myself!"

Blake's fairly vibrating with excitement, and I've had to have stern lectures with him about safety with this stuff: "These are NOT TOYS. Explosives. Please do not play with anything until I've lit it on fire and handed it to you!"


JR said...

The irony is probably lost on him:
BE I AM going to light them on fire THEN hand them to you."

Grammie Perrine said...

I always think of the Myers girls as "sparklers"...bright, pretty, and full of fire. Now I know from whence this comes! Hope your 4th was FANTASTIC.