My wife won’t allow me to shoot off fireworks anymore. Well, my wife and all the rest of the people in my cul-de-sac, that is.
For a long time, fireworks were illegal in Georgia, but for two glorious nights every year, everybody in the state wantonly abandoned all sense of good citizenship and broke the law. On New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, you could just about read by the light of all the fireworks exploding overhead. And the amazing thing was that the police just looked the other way! It was like prohibition all over again.
And I freely admit that I was one of those lawbreakers (Note to self: Check with attorney before publishing article to see if statute of limitations has expired for fireworks criminals.)
In my defense, I didn’t start off as a fireworks criminal. I originally bought my fireworks at a local grocery store like a chump. When I brought them home and lit the fuses I was treated to a “shower of sparkles” in a “rainbow of colors” which I found out meant they sort of fizzy-snappy-popped for about a minute or so, which delighted my then two- and four-year-olds. To be honest, I felt they were just fine, until the guy one street over began firing up the contraband fireworks he bought in Tennessee. There was nothing fizzy-snappy-poppy about his at all. His were all end-of-life-as-we-know-it, and when I saw them flashing above the tree line and heard the eardrum-popping sonic concussions they produced, my life purpose came into focus. I realized right then and there, I needed real fireworks and nothing would seem right in my world until I had them.
So the next time I had a gig in Tennessee, I raided one of those fireworks stores they strategically place on the border between the two states. I loaded up the trunk with enough explosives to start World War III and felt like a Colombian drug lord smuggling my wares back across the Georgia state line.
The next Fourth of July, I bolted out to the street the instant it became dark and lit my fireworks with all of the enthusiasm and expertise of a six-year-old. After I lit my first rocket, I was filled with wonder and amazement–at the rocket, sure, but mostly at the legal loophole that somehow allows these battle-ready explosives to be handled by the general public. God bless America.
About five minutes into my fireworks display, things went a tad awry. For some reason that I cannot now recall, I thought it would be a great idea to place a box of 24 rockets on top of another box. Right after I lit the fuse (how many tragic stories begin with those words?) the whole box of 24 rockets tipped over on its side and started blasting my neighbor’s house.
For a moment, I considered throwing myself on top of the box of explosives just like Captain America throwing himself on a grenade, but then I remembered that type of thing often results in an agonizing death.
My second idea was to kick the fireworks to the side so they weren’t pointing at my neighbor’s house. What I actually wound up doing, though, was staring with my mouth agape, watching volley after volley fire directly at my neighbor’s house. I remember standing there thinking, “Huh. There’s something you don’t see every day.”
The worst part is that my neighbor is a Vietnam vet. God only knows what must’ve been going through his mind as I was launching missiles at his house.
The good news is that it’s now legal to purchase real fireworks in Georgia. The bad news is that it doesn’t matter how legal they are now, my wife still ain’t going to be okay with me having them. And, you know what, I think she kind of has a point.
© 2019 Charles Marshall.