Thank all things creeping and crawling upon the earth that the Fourth is over. No more fireworks until at least Christmas.
Don't get me wrong, it was a great time, it just that certain things shouldn't mix, like adult men with the minds of children, some drinking, a few big cigars, a handful of disposable lighters, and fireworks.
When it comes to pryotechnics (read: burning things) my FIL is a lot like me, only tons moreso. You see, he has the budget to be a pyro, while I'm forced by financial constraints to more pedestrian acts of flammability, like lighting farts and the occasional bout of cow-tipping. When he and I get together and he's had weeks to buy fireworks the end result can be a lot like sex--spectacular when it's good, and a complete train wreck when it goes bad.
Last night was pretty good, sexually speaking, kind of a "missionary and then a little 69ing with mutual orgasms" occasion. The worst we managed to do, other than burning various bits of ourselves which, I've been assured, is an integral part of any fireworks display, was to blow the bottom completely off one of those mortar shell fireworks and go through quite a few hundred dollars worth of Chinese craftsmanship in sixty, count 'em, sixty minutes.
A little backstory. Remember when you were a kid, and Black Snakes and Smoke Bombs were the coolest thing going, and firecrackers scared the beejebus out of ya? And then you got a little older and Roman Candles and the multi-colour sparklers were to die for, and firecrackers were cool as long as you lit them on the ground and ran far away? And then bottle rockets were banned and THAT was the coolest thing going, and you were all about carrying around Black Cat crackers and throwing them at the last second at someone so they'd explode right in their ear or nose or gut? And you keep aging and suddenly you can't get any sort of satisfaction unless you've got at least three of the industrial mortar tubes, each loaded with double-burst shells chosen to be certain that the burst colours are complimentary, and you find yourself squatting in a dark field in ankle-high grass kicking at the fire ants trying to figure out how to light two fuses at once with one lighter while at the same time your FIL is lighting one, and you've got to do it so they all light one second apart from each other so as to make the skyburts fall PERFECTLY? Escalation of Fireworks Need, that's all it is. If "Hen Laying Eggs" and "Happiness Fountain With Report" are the grass and downers of fireworks then I'm eating raw crack and chasing it with Super Premium gasoline, all the while cruching amphetamines like M&Ms.
The spectators were awed, though, inbetween rounds of heckling. Especially after that one mortar tube fell over from the force of the other two going off like a couple of, well, like a couple of highly explosive grenades being fired from a cardboard mortar tube not much stronger than a toilet paper tube, and so the third mortar's shell has nowhere to go but sideways, screaming out across the field where it explodes (in a lovely double-burst red/green star with report) in the tall, dry grass while Sir Isaac Newton steps in and the equal-and-opposite reaction thing flings the now-burning tube in the opposite direction about forty feet or so at roughly 147 miles an hour.
All I am saying is that I'm glad it went THAT way and not toward the massive bag of gunpowder and oily rags and gas cans that we had, oh, right there close by.
And did you know that you can still use a completely hammered mortar tube if the inside base part is still attached? I fired about four more shells out of it that evening, just stuck it in the dirt half an inch or so and fired away. Worked like a charm. When we were done there was about three inches of it sticking up out of the ground, granted, and probably a lot of very seriously pissed off earthworms are writing a well-thought out and carefully worded petition to have me destroyed for the sake of all terrestrial dwellers, but that's life, eh?
Honestly, looking back over it all, I have to say that being pretty severely burnt wasn't too much to trade for the joy of an hour of cordite, gunpowder, burning paper (and flesh) and brilliant sky-bursts, not to mention bonding with close friends and family in law.
Anyway, the doctor said my arm would grow back in a few months, so it's all good.