And the Rockets’ Red Glare

It’s somewhat fitting that I celebrated the anniversary of our country telling the establishment to get bent by engaging in some moderately illegal activity myself.

We dared to shoot off fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Okay, yes, technically it’s illegal to launch certain types of fireworks without some kind of license that verifies you know what the hell you’re doing. But where’s the fun in knowing what you’re doing when it comes to recreational explosives?

Besides, practically nobody follows this law. Looking around the lake at which the cookout I attended took place, there was enough firepower to stage a moderately successful secession if we’d put our minds to it. Francis Scott Key would have added a couple more verses to “The Star Spangled Banner” had he been around.

And we were launching the damn things over a lake. This isn’t Cleveland. Our lakes don’t catch on fire down here.

But apparently the wind was blowing the remains of our fireworks — and just ours, not any of the dozen of other assaults going on — onto the roof of one of the buildings, and this could simply not be tolerated. So some old lady came out and read us the riot act. She had spirit, I’ll give her that, just not of the variety that lent itself to enjoying this particular method of celebrating the holiday.

Thing is, we were being careful. We had smart guys in charge of things. We were keeping the kids out of harms way. We were waiting for the wind to calm. Everything was completely safe.

Even the explosion that wrecked our launcher had good solid science behind it.

I mean, of course PVC pipe would burst under sufficient pressure. And of course a firework the size of a bratwurst would create that pressure once lit. And, unable to direct it down, it would naturally direct it out. Textbook stuff here.

It’s a good thing the catastrophic failure of our launch system happened before the cops showed up.

Yes, our elderly friend called the cops about six times in one hour, so the boys in blue showed up and busted us down to sparklers. All while more firepower than D-Day was being launched all around us. But we were the ones who got complained about, so we took the hit.

And we took it graciously. I mean, they had us dead to rights. What we were doing was technically against the law. And they didn’t do more than tell us to stop, when they could have written a ticket or worse. It did sort of put a damper on the evening, but at the same time, it was a sobering reminder that, despite having been brought forth in the fires of revolution, this is a nation of laws. And that those laws both restrict and protect us. And that in some countries, we wouldn’t have been given the courtesy of a warning. Only in America are you free to break the law and sort of get away with it. It made us all stop and think and truly appreciate the gift we have in living in this country.

Until we managed to find a neighbor willing to host our fireworks, and got to keep blowing stuff up.


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