Word Nerd

There's gonna be fireworks

I've had my fill of fireworks.

I'm reluctant to deny others the joys and terrors I experienced with high explosives, but I'm also well aware that I was lucky to get out of my youth with all my body parts intact.

As a child I played with all the legal fireworks available. I also messed with illegal fireworks, including bottle rockets and M-80s.

One summer when I was a teenager, I went up to Hood Canal with a friend and her family to enjoy the Fourth. We went out on the dock and lit fireworks that were, I think, highly illegal. As one of the youngsters, I stood around with the other teenagers and helped set up the cones that contained bursting displays.

During the commotion, I heard a desperate wail and spotted a kitten next to a retaining wall, trying unsuccessfully to hide in a woodpile. I plucked the little beast out and held it. Between explosions, it purred, but every time a bomb went off it tried to hide in the crook of my elbow.

To help calm the critter, I went around the retaining wall and watched the action from a little farther away. Soon after I took up my new spot, one of the bombs misfired.

The burst of flame and sparks went off at about my eye-level. Being behind the wall, I was mostly protected from the blast. My friends hit the ground, slapping out sparks. The adults in their chairs watching the display also had to beat out sparks on clothing, hair and grass.

No one was injured and they laughed about it, but I decided to stay behind the wall after that. I haven't set off any fireworks without trepidation since then.

I often hear people talk about how the rules against fireworks didn't exist while they were children and they survived. Then they claim their survival means the rules are stupid.

But the rules were usually put in place because someone else didn't survive to tell about it.

I came close enough, just once, to being one of the unlucky. As a result, I think I'll just leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.


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