Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fireworks in the wrong hands

Fireworks were always fascinating. We couldn’t buy them legally in Wisconsin, so we had to wait for a family trip down South, where it seems most anything goes. Meanwhile I tried to make them, without much success. Even bought some cannon fuse from a guy at school, but the broom handle cannon I made and various explosive devices didn’t – explode that is. Sure there was a nice fireball and lots of smoke, but no big bang. Some shrapnel would have been kind of cool too…

Fortunately, we hauled the trailer down to Florida over Easter break and once past the mason Dixon line there are fireworks all along the highway. I guess anywhere it is legal to marry close relatives and drink while driving your pickup truck down the road fireworks are mundane. We’d get to buy a bunch, except for the one year I screwed up with a box of “farmer matches” – the strike anywhere, including under the tire of my dad’s car kind of matches. The whole box I’d dropped went up, pretty spectacular, but not as spectacular as when my dad got out of the car and got a hold of me. Really added to my vocabulary that night!!

Anyway we were left on our own with class B explosives on the beach. We either had a cigarette (not for smoking, only for lighting fireworks) or a punk and most of the fauna on the dunes was scrambling for cover. We also bought fireworks out West. It was likr the flash crackers were custom made to fit into the hole in the middle of the huge ant nest. Boy did that piss ‘em off. They were throwing their little ant bodies on the fuse trying to put out the fire but to no avail. You had to stand way back because there’d be ants flying everywhere. They were big and red and very unhappy, a bad combination.

Bottle rockets were cool too, especially if you added a flash cracker warhead. That did overbalance the rocket a bit so you had to keep a sharp eye on it, no telling where it might go, but go they did.

I had some older bottle rockets, had them for many years, I was older and married – apparently the rockets didn’t age well. I went to light one off and it didn’t quite make it out of the bottle. There was a hellacious report which set off one of the neighbor’s burglar alarms and really rattled the windows. We decided it was time to go back inside.

I still get a kick out of fireworks. Unfortunately you can’t get them in Arizona – just as well considering how dry it has been out here. Last thing you want is a wildfire named after you, that “honor” is usually accompanied by a long stint in jail and reparations. I still remember how it felt to have a whole pack of flash crackers – you felt like you could blow stuff up all the live long day.