When I was a kid, all the parents bought Fourth of July explosives like no big whoop. Your dad or whoever blew up things in the driveway while everyone else oohed and aahed from not that safe of a distance. And where was your mother during all this? Your mom was busy lighting the sparkler clutched in your happy hand. Probably with a cigarette.
Sparklers, the "safe" entertainment on fire.
There were these soot colored tablets in a little box called Jumbo Magic Black Snakes. When the tablet met a match or lighter, it smoked a bit then sort of ejaculated a turd out if itself unto the sidewalk. Sure, they didn't have the crackle and sass of the other fireworks, but those humble, transformative little poopers were always my favorites.
As a teenager, my friends and I went to the beach at night where you retained your limbs by jumping out of the unpredictable path of flying M80's and whirling Cherry Bombs. Not surprisingly, those little rockets were shot out of pilfered traffic cones by older, goofy, crazy eyed boys you were hopelessly crushed out on. Even though it was armageddon on Santa Monica sand, you still desired to look real cute just in case one of those boys looked your way. They never did.
Eventually, there were too many incidents (knife fights, children aflame) and the community decided it would no longer hold the annual display at sunset but at 6.
SIX IN THE MORNING!
Talk about "dawn's early light." But by then we had fake ID's and were going to nightclubs. To roll from a club at 4 to some fireworks at 6 somehow seemed natural.
Nowadays, If the husband and I decide to celebrate the fourth, it's all quite dignified. Last year we went to a play then drank wine and ate oysters. The year before that, we went to an outdoor concert in Philadelphia. Today, we picnic at the beach. It's classy and old and mellow. I like these things.
But the rowdy girl with the fake ID? She's still inside me, somewhere. But now I don't take her so seriously. Now, we get together to share a memory, a glass of wine, and a laugh.