I Donít Have To Buy Any Presents? 
(4TH OF July)

By Mike Ryan

            He waves his menacing weapon in my direction and I cringe with fear. He is packed with explosives and it seems there is no one to stop him. His grin is sinister and the laughter emanating from his mouth is demonic. Not only is he hell-bent on blowing up everything in his path, he enjoys it to the point of euphoria. He is not alone. They run in packs, terrorizing at random. The acrid smell of gunpowder hangs in the air as the pop, pop, pop of distant explosions invade the stillness of the night. 

             Could this be the chaotic streetsí of Israel? Maybe itís the back-alleys of Belfast or how about the civil war torn jungles of Columbia? Nope, nada, neither, none of the above. Actually itís me and every other red blooded American kid on the 4th of July.

             When I was a child, I spent every last penny I could possibly round up on fireworks for the 4th of July, and continued to do so until, well I still continue to do so. In my day, we bought pop-bottle rockets by the gross and Black Cat firecrackers by the brick. Roman Candles were expensive, but always worth every penny. We would blow up our model cars and planes, pop cans and maybe an occasional anthill (sorry ASPCA and other animal lovers). Smoke bombs were good for pranks and those glow worms that you lit on the sidewalk were for dorks. Sparklers were for your little brother, but if you got hold of some M-80s; you were the MAN! Chicks dig a guy who can hold a sizzling pop-bottle rocket until the last second and then throw it right on target. We used to pity the poor fools who were relegated to the backyard family gatherings with their sparklers and fountains. We hit the streets with the heavy artillery.

              In all these years, weíve never started a fire; well at least not any that we couldnít put out ourselves. No one has been hurt; except for some rather numb fingers for a few days, after holding on to a firecracker a split second too long, and as far as I know, most of us grew up to be well-adjusted adults (okay, maybe the jury is still out on me).


           Now it seems the not so well adjusted adults among us want to ban all types of fireworks. Could these be the kids we laughed at in our youth? Never having had the joy of blowing the crap out of their neighborhood; do they now intend to have the last laugh on us? Remember this. When fireworks are outlawed, only outlaws will have fireworks. Youíre not going to do away with them folks. We want them, we love them, heck, some of us even need them. My wife not only loves football, she is even more of a nut about fireworks than I am (stay back guys, sheís the perfect woman and sheís all mine).

               Thank God for Wyoming (I canít believe I said that). Iíve always said that when God created the earth, Wyoming is where he sat, but I take it all back. At least up there they still respect the American way. It may be wind swept, desolate and barren, but they not only sell recreational explosives, they sell them cheap, no questions asked. Itís as American as apple pie, fried chicken and cheeseburgers: which probably cause more deaths than fireworks do.

             The 4th of July is the perfect holiday. What other holiday involves burgers, beer and explosives in the same day, and Iím not expected to buy anyone any presents? I love it. This year more than any other, we need to celebrate our independence. If it werenít for our victory over the British, we would not only talk funny, but our food would suck too. We are Americans; our only king is named Elvis, our queens stay in their own part of town and our prince is a recording artist from Minneapolis. We drink cold beer, eat barbequed beef and shoot off explosives to celebrate not having to kow-tow to an elite few, live by ridiculous laws, or be treated as inferiors. Heck, if I wanted to live like that, I would just move to Boulder.

© Mike Ryan 2003

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