Don’t blow up your savings on the Fourth of July
I still remember the year it happened. Defying all past precedent, our parents took us down the most amazing place on Earth: the fireworks stand.
We had never before gotten fireworks at home for the Fourth. I know some years we’d gone into the big city to watch the big show, my mom ooohing and ahhing at the splashes of light in the sky. Then the inevitable traffic jam home while we kids gave up trying to stay awake and fell fast asleep unbuckled in the back seat.
At 9 or 10 years old the fireworks stand was already legendary to me. Something we’d never experienced firsthand but had learned about through our more worldly friends. They described the sounds, power, height and close calls with voices trembling with excitement. Growing up on a farm in what was basically the wilderness at the time, we hadn’t even seen our neighbors blowing up fireworks before. When my friends talked about buying handfuls of bottle rockets, my mind reeled imagining what a bottle rocket must be like. Does it really make a bottle into a rocket? Wow!
So my brother and I were more than thrilled to be able to pick out fireworks from the stand. We pointed at the brightly colored boxes and occasionally we were steered by our parents away from items that were too expensive or dangerous. Oh man, this would be the best Fourth of July ever!
We were allowed to play on our own outside with the little ones. We put them under buckets, taped them to our army men and lit them and through them to watch them explode in the air. A few went off in our hands, but they were little enough to just hurt — no damage. But it was enough to make it thrilling. For awhile.
The other fireworks had to wait until it got dark for the full effect. An adult had to light most of those for us, carefully lighting the device and rushing away quickly. Then a whoosh of sound, a slight bit of apprehension as we waited to see if it would turn suddenly dangerous, then some light and noise and then just some burned-up paper remained.
My brother and I hoarded some of our little firecrackers for use later in the year, planning some epic explosion. But somehow the reality of the big boom never measured up to the dream.
And so it went over the years. One year we even got to go Blackjack, the biggest fireworks store I’d ever seen. (Which I now consider to be ground zero for idiots. Alert: The design of that web site is even more offensive than the fireworks themselves.) Occasionally we’d hear stories of someone scoring some of the mysterious “M-80s” and I had great fun at a friend’s house one year playing war by shooting bottle rockets across the ground at each other.
Then there was the time in high school when one of my idiot friends shot off a bottle rocket inside the car while we were driving. Or the time just a few years ago when some drunk morons shot a very large bottle rocket (accidentally) across the street, nearly hitting my 2 year old nephew in the face.
One of the most shocking fireworks scenes I’ve witnessed was when I was living in Chicago. I was over at some friends’ house for the Fourth and some of the local residents (clearly not wealthy people, by the way) closed off the street and began blowing up fireworks in the middle of the street. I wish I could begin to describe to you the amount of fireworks these people had. It must have been thousands of dollars worth. The garbage when they were finally done was as big as a large car. Just the garbage!
The problem got a lot weirder when governments cracked down on the danger and nuisance of these firecrackers. That’s when the concept of “illegal” firework came into existence. Suddenly you weren’t cool unless you were sneaking onto the Indian reservation to buy the “good stuff”. Like an arms race for ass-clowns, neighbors would try to outdo each other with bigger and more annoying fireworks.
That’s how things are now. Our neighborhood sounds like a war zone on the Fourth of July, scaring animals, causing fires and littering my yard with bottle rocket sticks, plastic pieces and paper. Perhaps the only thing more annoying than all of that are the bottle rocket scientists who can’t figure out what day it is, blowing crap up for days before and after.
All of this is a long story to explain why I can’t help but grind my teeth when I hear one of these “middle class is struggling” stories. I’m not saying the middle class hasn’t been hammered on several fronts and I more than recognize many people are having a tough time of it these days. But we do need to be honest and admit that a fair amount of this is self-inflicted. And buying fireworks is probably the dumbest way to turn cash into garbage.
Occasionally some bozo will try to pretend that the more crap he buys to blow up at home means he loves America more than everyone else. These fools stamp their feet and whine at every local government attempt to protect fingers, sanity and property claiming it’s their American right and freedom! Please. They’re just consumerist suckers being manipulated into wasting money. If they want to celebrate America, maybe they could spend the evening reading the Constitution or something. The Fourth Amendment is particularly relevant right now if time is short…
Whether you’re trying to get out of debt, trying to reach your pretirement goals or simply don’t want to be an annoying douchebag, skip the fireworks stand this year. Wasting your money on fireworks — such a fleeting moment of excitement — is just not worth it. Enjoy your community’s local fireworks show if you have one, or enjoy the show put on by your idiot neighbors if you like watching money go up in flames. But please, please, don’t burn up your savings on fireworks.
What do you think? Anyone else annoyed and dismayed by DIY fireworks?