Firecrackers apparently get better with age
As Americans celebrated their country's heritage last weekend with pops, bangs and booms, I joined in by spending the afternoon of the Fourth of July in rural Wyandotte County. At a friends' parents' house near Bonner Springs, such revelry is yet to be outlawed, although a firecracker ban in Lawrence hasn't seemed to make much of a difference, judging by an unknown incendiary device I found aflame in the middle of my street Sunday night.
Although this small gathering was mostly adults, I noticed something about the two children there, both of whom appeared to be about preschool age. It seems the firecrackers were more popular with the 25 to 30 age demographic than with the kids, who were wholly unimpressed. While the adults sent Jumping Jacks and Saturn Missiles into the oblivion, the children mostly just covered their ears and complained.
My 26-year-old friend Scott joked the Fourth of July usually meant sitting in front of a water-filled bucket, chucking in waterproof firecrackers. After what seemed like an eternity of watery kabooms, only then was he ready to open box two of three. At that point, I began to believe him.
While the children swam in the pool, watched videos, and otherwise avoided our revelry, a small city of burned out firecrackers manifested on the plywood in the back yard. Not satisfied with simply setting off the firecrackers, my friends began using Black Cats to make sure not even the cardboard was left of the Hen Laying Eggs, army tanks and Friendship Pagodas that had spewed glowing fireballs. The back yard began to look like a war-torn Sarajevo.
I wondered if the appeal of fireworks to us "older" folks had more to do with reliving childhood memories than with the explosives themselves. But for me, fireworks were something I really didn't have experience with until I could drive to the tents myself and had my own money to spend on them. Firecrackers were one of those things my parents saw as dangerous and a waste of money and, on the whole, unnecessary. Kind of like amusement parks and pizza parlors with animatronic bears and Skee Ball.
As much as I hate to admit it, in some ways they were right. I'm sure Showbiz Pizza was overpriced, and I discovered I hate roller coasters. And it also turns out that jelly shoes do in fact give you blisters, although I'm sure having a pair would have made first grade so much better.
Firecrackers, however, are one thing I think my parents might have been wrong about. Sure, there are dangers, but I love them nonetheless -- magnesium strobes, smoke bombs -- the whole lot.
But when it comes to firecrackers being a waste of money, I saw what my parents meant firsthand Sunday afternoon as we watched a friend's $4 "American Party" fountain go up in a blaze of what could not really be described as glory.
That's why I've decided for July 4th in the future I'll leave the entertainment up to friends with well-lit punks and seemingly endless supplies of helicopter bees.