Things I Don’t Understand #452: Fireworks

As I sit here in my kitchen, listening to my hillbilly neighbors setting off all manner and decibel levels of illegally-obtained fireworks, I can’t help but think to myself that they spent an awful lot of money on those stupid things. Money better spent on, I don’t know, groceries and stuff. People drop hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on things called “Class Act” and “Lone Wolf” and “Attitude Adjustment.” And for what? You light them, they make a loud noise, maybe shoot off some pretty colors, scare some neighborhood pets into hiding under the bed (as two of mine are doing currently), and they’re gone.

I don’t know. I guess I just don’t get it.

What makes even LESS sense to me are the people who set them off during the day. Isn’t the point for the fireworks to be set off against the night sky? I was at a picnic this afternoon and there was a party two doors down in which a guy who I SWEAR had a mullet set off a spectacular sequence of gunpowder-filled contraband IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. I seriously fought back the urge to yell “MURICA!” when he was done. What was the point? That would have been so much more impactful at night.

Illegally-obtained fireworks aside, I have never really been into the large displays put on by local communities, either. I think this stems from my lifelong fear of loud, sudden noises. See also: popping balloons, any kind of jump scare, pyrotechnics at a concert. My husband claps his hands a little too vigorously sometimes when his sports team of choice is doing well in a clutch situation and it scares the ever-loving bejeebus out of me. Fireworks were traumatic for me as a child. Inevitably, my family would drag me to the orchestra performance of “Stars and Stripes Forever” and other patriotic fare, which I’d mildly tolerate. When it came time for them to start the big boomers, I would look for the nearest hole to crawl into, or bury my entire head under a blanket, whichever was more convenient for me.

As I got older, I think I started to tolerate it. Once I got into high school, for instance, I had to pretend to be in to the fireworks because it usually meant that I would be sitting next to a guy on a blanket and maybe get to make out with him before/during/afterward. Fireworks were ok then. I still didn’t like the loud noise, but I could play up my jumpiness as a reason to get closer to whoever I was trying to get with that year. This got me through a good eight years.

Now that I’m old and married and not trying to impress anyone, I could seriously give two shits about fireworks. Some people feel like it’s un-American to NOT see fireworks on the 4th. As evidenced by the cacophony of booms happening around me, I don’t even need to leave my house in order to see fireworks. I can look out my window right now and glimpse some colored sparks flying behind the treeline. Community fireworks shows don’t really hold all that much appeal for me. First of all, parking is a pain in the ass. If you are so lucky as to find a spot, you’d better hope it’s easy to get out. I went to a community display a few year ago where we parked in a large office parking lot, along with half the city, and then spent at least 45 minutes just trying to get out of our parking space at the end. Also: lack of bathroom facilities can be an issue.

Plus, maybe I’m just getting more and more cynical in my old age, but if you’ve seen one fireworks show, you’ve seen them all. You get a few cool ones, those squealies interspersed, and then a whole shit ton go off at the end, and you go home. Although I will say, the coordinated fireworks set to music are pretty impressive. My favorite fireworks display of all time would have to be the one I saw at a Cleveland Indians game a few years ago that was set to the music of Hall and Oates. That could be because I am an H&O superfan, and just hearing “Maneater” blasted throughout a huge stadium was pretty kickass, explosions or no explosions.

Don’t even get me started on how freaking dangerous they are. Maybe I value all of my limbsa and digits too much to really enjoy fireworks. You always see horror stories each year about some poor soul who gets blinded or dismembered somehow by a rogue firework. No thanks.

Yeah, I know I’m a real Debbie Downer on this day which is meant to celebrate America. Sorry about that.

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