Most of us have a fireworks story.
Two of my favorites involve premature explosions.
There was the time a match was dropped too close to the bag of backyard fireworks.
And then there was the time someone lit too many fuses during my hometown fireworks display. In both instances, it was every man, woman and child for themselves.
Something about fireworks calls my name. Maybe it’s the colors or the sounds or the unexpected, but there you are, seated on a blanket under the stars on a midsummer evening, waiting for the sky to light up and noises to rattle your bones, delivering unexpected thrills–even when you’re expecting them. Suddenly you’re a kid again.
The names alone are enough to excite: Frisky Starburst, Paparazzi, Calling All Cars, Night Life, Tropical Fantasy, Desert Blitz, Apocalypse Now. The list goes on.
Among my favorites are Magic Crystals, those colorful little pyramids that spin and buzz, then blast off like a toy space shuttle. They soar to tree height and higher. When it comes to fireworks, I am easily amused.
Once while driving home from Tennessee after July 4th, roadside vendors lured me in with half-off merchandise. They were having a fire sale, you might say.
I spotted the makeshift tractor trailer “store” as the North Carolina state line loomed ahead. It was either buy now or say goodbye till next year.
I turned in. The trailer was chocked full of unexploded merchandise—from rockets and M-80s to Crowing Roosters and curling Black Snakes that make charcoal ribbons on the sidewalk.
The men minding the store—I’ll call them Dumb and Dumber– pointed out that everything was half off including my prized Magic Crystals. I could hardly contain my excitement. I paused for five seconds before I decided that two boxes were going home with me.
After the simple transaction, I stepped out of the trailer into the sweltering heat when something caught my eye—a bonfire blazing not fifteen feet from the trailer. Dumb and Dumber were disposing of empty cardboard boxes. If just one spark ventured too close….
I hurried to my car, threw it into gear and spun out of the parking lot faster than a Magic Crystal could clear the rooftop.
Thinking back, I should have warned those men about starting a fire so close to the tinder box. The news coverage would have gone statewide if not national.
But I was too panicked to think twice. Sometimes it’s every man and woman for themselves.