Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hunkering Down on the 4th

Yesterday I made the drive from Saint Louis to Indianapolis. I made sure to leave early enough as to not risk being out as the sun went down. Why? The 4th of July may be a time to celebrate America's independence, but for me the 4th is a time to stay in, and stay away from the windows.

As a child I feared the 4th. I didn't mind the non-whining bottle rockets and I can remember liking the fireworks that spun in place with sparks and didn't make that much noise, but besides those nothing struck fear in my heart like hearing the term "firecracker" or anything else that either has or makes a sound like a bomb.

Living in the city of Saint Louis there aren't that many fireworks that go off in the neighborhoods. Yesterday I was on the far North side of Indy, Westfield to be exact, and it was very easy to picture myself in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Seriously, I can't imagine the amount of money people around hear spend on fireworks and the 30 seconds I went outside I could see fireworks that looked like the ones one would expect to see at a professional display.

So, you might ask, why don't I like fireworks? The first answer is obvious and that is sound. The concussion sensation of the big boomers are a high shock to my system. Then, after the initial shock, I am in fear of the next one, then the next, and then the cycle continues on with my system at high alert. There is another reason I am somewhat fearful and it goes back to an event that happened when I was about five years old.

It was New Year's Eve and my dad wanted to celebrate in style. What better way to celebrate than to mix these elements: 300 bottle rockets, a Folger's coffee can, and a gallon of gasoline. With that mix what could possibly go wrong?

Here's what was suppose to happen; there were 300 bottle rockets in a coffee can and gasoline in the can and outside. The gas would act as a fuse so my dad could light all 300 at once and the sky would be filled with the howling sound of 300 bottle rockets. My dad filled the can and also had a gas trail away from the can to act as a fuse so he didn't have to get too close.

In theory this would work great. However, as the family stood on the porch we found out theories often proves to be a wasted thought as in reality they are just that, a fantastical image of what one thinks should happen. What did happen was that the bottle rockets themselves had fuses which mean that they would not take off instantly. So while those fuses were going off the bottle rockets sticks were in a pool of burning gasoline and melting.

If you've ever seen a bottle rocket go off with a bent stick you know that they have no predictability. Now, imagine 300 of them! I was bundled up in a gigantic blue coat that I had and I'm glad I was because as soon as the rockets started taking off it was a war-zone. The family scattered about and one bottle rocket bounced off my coat. I had seen enough and I went running towards the hill on the west side of the house before I think my mom shoved me to the ground to take cover. The noise was intense with the howling and the explosions. If there was ever a time to call something pure chaos this was it.

Thankfully the chaos didn't last for too long, but those seconds played out like hours. As bad as it was for me, I think my dad enjoyed the show and if I remember correctly he instantly was plotting a way to do it better the next year. In the end, for the 300 bottle rocket extravaganza, there was no next year.

I do realize that the previous story was from New Year's but fireworks are fireworks regardless of the celebration. So those are the two reasons I don't like them, it's now the longest point in the year until I have to deal with them again so all in all today is a good day.


  1. REALLY FOLKS, it was a brilliant idea. I think it would have been better if I had soaked the sticks of the bottle rockets in water before igniting the gas, that way they would have certainly had a vertical trajectory instead of horizontal. Hey, I'm glad I thought of that. Aaron, trust me! It will work next time.

  2. Argh, fathers and fireworks! xD I know exactly what you mean (whole other story).
    About the loudness part: I usually put on earwarmers to soften the loudness. It doesn't take it all away, but it does help a bit without having to explain everyone why you have those things on (fireworks are usually in cold periods).
    I do have to admit our streets are usually not that busy, but seeing as it isn't in your street either it might help you too.
    It won't help totally against the thousand-crackers (is it called like that in English?) and stuff like that, but it helps for most things.

  3. I'm afraid I laughed too much at this. My daughter tells me it's not only the sound she hates (she still hides behind me at 17) but that she remembers someone's fireworks going off sideways. I don't remember it myself....maybe I ran off and left her there...Not quite sure.