Fourth of July in Michigan! Fireworks. Hot dogs. Horrendous American beer.
It’s nice enough. You can even force a pretend smile when downing a sip of Budweiser swill. It’s that kind of day. Family. Fellowship. Fun. (And, apparently, it coerces the desire to write another lame YMCA slogan.)
But there’s something missing in my mitten shaped state. Where’s the exploding digits and wails of pain? Where’s the knee buckling, neck grasping impalements raining down from above? Tales like these were hallmarks of the holiday.
That is, until Michigan decided to ban the “fun” family fireworks and hilariously dangerous Lawn Jarts. They’ve robbed our traditions and – maybe – just a bit of our soul.
Once upon a time, a Michigan family would await the community fireworks like the rest of the country: by exploding powerful packs of weapons grade gunpowder for the amusement of kids and family within the confines of the backyard. Sure the fireworks were waaay to powerful for “Twelve Beer” Uncle Leo to safely handle. That was part of the fun. Would he blow himself up? How many fingers would he lose this year? Would the Demon Rocket topple over just after it was lit and fire off directly into wheel chair bound Grandma Kay? Who knows? That was part of the magic of the day.
It used to be that missing and/or mangled fingers were a badge of honor. They shouted ‘yes, I got drunk and irresponsibly handled explosives in front of my friends and family. And had a BLAST doing it!’ Finger nubs were so in.
Then, the Law stepped in all ten fingered and self righteous. “Stop handling explosives after a case of beer.” They declared. The party poopers had arrived. Laws were passed. In an instant, our ¼ mile rising, sonic booming fireworks were replaced with smoking “bombs” and party “candles”. These aren’t fireworks. They’d barely leave a second degree burn. And no way could they accidentally torch my neighbors garage. Where’s the fun in that?
You would think we could take safety and comfort at least in a rousing death-defying game of Lawn Jarts. You remember these steel pointed flying mini-spears that spiraled through the air to an uncertain destination? Yep, they’re banned also. A few kids each year get skewered and – BAM! – no more Lawn Jarts. What better way to celebrate the country’s birth than to send a few of these mini arrows up into the afternoon sun leaving small, unattended children to judge their speed and trajectory? What country is this? If Jimmy Carter were alive today, he’d roll over in his grave.
So, we celebrated the Fourth with some friends and family. I saw my odd disheveled looking relative common to all families. She seemed to be doing an impression of Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber. Same haircut. Same stupid look on the face. I wanted to congratulate her for an outstanding impression. Alas, she never broke character.
We clapped half heartedly for the community fireworks show and went home. Our thoughts drifted to the Indiana-Michigan border and the rows of real fireworks stands that dot the divide tempting us Michiganders to come south and avert the law. Maybe next year. Maybe next year…
Those of you in Fireworks states, I hope you enjoyed the holiday with your exploding kegs of powder and yelps of delight and pain.
Sure, we have all of our fingers this morning. No one was impaled.
Oh, well. Maybe next year.
For those who think I am unawares of the Iowa fireworks incident, you would be incorrect. I am awares. I think this post is fairly dripping in satire and doesn't take much to decipher. I realize it's not all Sinclair Lewisy - or even Vonneguty - satire but it's there. If you didn't catch it, you may want to pick up my new book "Nitmos' Blog Reading for Dummies". Just sayin'.
Later this week: My 5k Hopes and Dreams for this coming Saturday. A 5k? Yes, a 5k. With all the marathon running lately, I should be able to fart out a 5k at this point right? We'll see.
I disagree with Ted's correction in the comments that the "Give me liberty..." quote should be attributed to Patrick Henry. Wrong. You'll remember that he did the "I Have A Dream" speech. Check and mate.