I’m not sure if it still this way today, but fireworks were illegal when I was growing up in Massapequa Park.
Of course, that didn’t mean they were not everywhere. People choosing to break such laws only had to buy them from a car trunk in Chinatown.
We frowned on such things. So there was much horror when we arrived in Michigan and discovered in our first July here that fireworks are quite legal. You can find them in every supermarket or in tents set up in every gas station parking lot.
I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked, given the state’s love affair with hunting, the Detroit Lions and other dangerous and otherwise frowned on activities.
I openly feared the fireworks. I thought just walking past the massive displays at the Meijer stores was risking blowing off a limb.
I felt this way for every one of my first 13 years in the state.
Then three years ago, I’m not sure what came over me. Maybe it was a mini-midlife crisis, or being despondent that the Mets being out of race at that point.
What ever it was, I somehow managed to slip one of the $12 packages of fireworks into my shopping cart. And with relatives shaking their heads in disbelief, we set them off in the backyard that Independence Day.
We weren’t especially good at it. I’d set the firework on a piece of wood, touch the fuse with a barbecue lighter and run like hell for cover, admiring the sparks from a safe distance before dousing the smoldering shell with a garden hose. My relatives were forced to sit on the deck choking back smoke.
We finished the day with limbs and eyes intact. And the monster is out of the cage.
Only certain kinds of fireworks are legal here, mostly the colorful stuff that can’t leave the ground. No bottle rockets or serious explosives like M-80s. And they all have names that make me suspect that people with only a fleeting knowledge of English came up with them – names like “Whistling Gator,” “Peach Flowers in Spring,” “Fireworks Friendships” and “Piccolo Pete.”
So with the usual restraint, we now have a multi-media show that involves the iPod hooked up to speakers booming out patriotic songs – kind of. Do you know what Grand Funk Railroad, Neil Diamond, Def Leppard, and Night Ranger all have in common? Yes! All have songs with “America” in the title! And now my neighbors know that, too!
I was figuring it’s just a matter of time before Kiss asks be to be the pyrotechnic director for it's next tour. But my wife has kept me reigned in. I’m only allowed to touch the massive boxes at Costco.