Monday, July 07, 2008

On Mangled Fingers and Lawn Jarts

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.
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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'.
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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.
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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.

25 comments:

Marcy said...

NY is the same way. Fireworks are illegal. I don't think there a many states that ban them. Guess we're the unlucky ones. Gawd, what am I going to tell the children to play with then?

Jess said...

PA has some strange fireworks laws....but I know my neighbors always used to light stuff off anyway...

a small child did almost get blown up once...since then things have been a bit more tame...what a shame haha

Kristin said...

Sarcasm is a language not spoken (or understood) by all.... And by the way, "Give me liberty or give me death" was actually said by Patrick Swayze, in Dirty Dancing.

Vanilla said...

For us Coloradans it's the Wyoming border that's dotted with firework stands, baiting us to come up and buy some, and maybe tip over a few cows while we're there.

Xenia said...

Fireworks season in this country isn't til early November when Guy Fawkes day is celebrated. Everyone becomes a pyro for about two weeks, lighting up anything that will explode and setting Guy's effigy on fire. Man, all he did was try to blow up Parliament. Is that really so bad?

Vanilla said...

Also, Kristin is wrong about her version of the quote, everyone knows that what Patrick Swayze said in Dirty Dancing was "No one puts Baby in a corner."

Meg said...

Those Phantom Fireworks billboards always scare me.
You're lucky you have community fireworks. For all of the summer celebrations Ann Arbor puts on, you'd think they would have some July 4th fireworks. Nope!

*aron* said...

there is only one city in the bay area where you can have any sort of fireworks, but down near my parents you can have them in "city limits" so who really knows what the law is.

there were a TON of signs on the freeways saying not to use them due to the fire danger this year... just what CA needs - another fire.

RazZDoodle said...

In NE they're illegal, too. That's why the Nebraska State Patrol sets up camp at the Missouri border.

Yard Darts (that's what we called 'em) were AWESOME! You gotta give us one or the other: explosives or flying metal objects!

You know, if you read your post while humming the star-spangled banner, you get a little teary-eyed.

Jeff said...

MD is county by county. Gawd forbid you get caught crossing COUNTY lines for your Independence Day cheer!

Viper said...

Usually, we can acquire weak fireworks around here if we sign a waiver saying we won't light 'em off in Ohio. Which of course goes out the window, literally and immediately, when I shoot bottle rockets from the car window. The good shit is in Kentucky, or so I'm told.

Paul said...

Best of luck in the 5K this weekend. Have you run another 800m workout since 7/1?

I hope you set a nice PR, but secretly I don't want you to break the magic 6:00 per mile barrier before I do. That's 18:38.46815 if you're scoring at home... or even if you're alone.

The Laminator said...

Seriously Nitmos, I think your satire is more dangerous than any fireworks the kids could possibly play with. The trick is to install that into your Runner's Bill of Rights to make it seems like it's all for the public good. Get on that!

Fun Guv said...

Apparently all of our neighbors ran for the border and picked up some explosives. We sat on our patio and had a 360 view of some great firework shows.

Last I knew you could get Lawn Jarts in Canada still...at least we had some Canadian friends that still had a set and always brought them to the summer work party...oh the memories!

KimsRunning said...

Wanna hear something truly amazing?? I live in a state that is in a constant fear of wildfires and guess what??? We can buy all kinds of fireworks on the side of the road. There are even stores that only open for holidays and they have SHOPPING CARRIAGES! Geeesh.

Thanks for the congrats...I really am happy I can keep PR-ing, even if it is by mere seconds....lol

Anonymous said...

Ah, my childhood and favorite moments (hopeful moments) from my marriage. Decided to spend this 4th in Canada where they have real fireworks and real beer. Love the mitten, but really....

Are you running the CRIM this season of speed?

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

No fireworks here...worried about burning the state to the ground or some such folishness. As for flying metal, that's cool here. That's probably why all the UFOs hang out over our state.

As for "Give me liberty or give me death," according to Al Gore's website, that's his too.

Lily on the Road said...

Yup fireworks here, but only on certain days!! Go figure,

Good luck farting out the 5K!

Scott said...

Ha ha...

Fireworks laws were written to protect my brother and his loved ones. He often sits on the toilet and instead of reading the paper like most men, he lights and whips firecrakers out the window. He's one bottle rocket short of a fireworks display...

Kevin said...

Yeah what ever happened to personal responsibility? If bubba wants to blow himself up let him do it. So much for survival of the fittest

Frayed Laces said...

I'll never forget my first trip to the fireworks store. A man was behind the counter, watching my bros and I ooh and ahh over the goods. We picked a pack of some sort of super-m80's or something, and the old man stood up, said "I would be careful with those, kids. This is what happened to me the last time I used those" and held up his 3-fingered hand. I still see his claw everytime I light a sparkler.

jen said...

We used to have some awesome amature fireworks shows in Montana, but here in California everyone's fingers are intact. There are a few big shows put on around the bay though, which kind of makes up for it.

Good luck on the 5k!

e said...

Without fireworks and Lawn Jarts, the terrorists have won.

sRod said...

How are you supposed to celebrate your country's freedom if you can't even blow up a small part of it?

chia said...

Dooode you must be an eastie - what bit of MI do you come from? We're in Grand Rapids and there were so many illegal firebombs going off all weekend I thought they turned legal.