July 02, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

Well, we made it. The 4th of July weekend is upon us.

There was a time in my life when the 4th of July was a month-long event, rather than simply a three day weekend. That was before the dark times, before the Empire. . . I mean, before a job, and a home, and payments and responsibilities, and all those other icky things that intrude into our lives: also known as "adulthood."

When I coming up, which is an old-timey way of saying "growing up," I started to prepare for the 4th of July during the first week of June, or even into May if I could swing it, by buying fireworks. Granted, fireworks were illegal in Minnesota at the time, but trying to keep fireworks out of the hands of determined children is like trying to keep Lindsay Lohan away from a bottle of Grey Goose.

It's funny, but one of my earlier memories was of my Dad taking my brother and me down to the basement--the darkest place on the planet--and lighting a couple of sparklers. The fact that's one of my earliest memories should tell you a bit about the deeply ingrained allure of fireworks flickering in my soul.

For a solid month, I'd build my fireworks stockpile and keep it under lock and key in my skate box. I'd open it from time to time to marvel at the colors and breathe in the spicy aroma of gunpowder just waiting to be ignited.

This year marks the first 4th of July for my son, Aiden, and I have to admit I'm a bit torn. On the one hand, I want him to enjoy the holiday and the fireworks that are part of it, but on the other hand (thank God I still have two) I remember all too well the misadventures I had with pyrotechnics over the years. I'm probably one of only a handful of Americans who never went into the military, but nevertheless managed to detonate a grenade in his parents' backyard. So, I've set some fairly dangerous firework precedents, and I can see in my baby boy's eyes the glint of a child who will be no stranger to the lighter and fuse, whether I encourage him or not.

Fireworks are now legal in Minnesota, which is to say the most boring fireworks on the planet. If it can leave the earth or make a boom, it's still illegal, so we're left with things that, to use industry lingo: "Emit showers of sparks." Which, that's still cool and all, and to a nine-month old I'm sure they're every bit as magical as my father with his sparkers in the basement, but my boy's bound to discover the real world of fireworks at some point. You can make fireworks as illegal in Minnesota as you want, after all; so long as we share a border with South Dakota, we're going to get the bigger stuff, just as sure as you're going to get cocaine coming out of Mexico.

Perhaps it's a bit premature to be worrying about how and when my son will discover his first firework artillery shell. Hopefully, if I show good judgement and safety this year, some tendrils of that cautionary behavior will make its way into his rapidly-developing mind and will exhibit itself in his firework use years from now.

So, this year, probably tomorrow, I'll buy a big assortment of Minnesota-approved fireworks, and I'll light them this weekend as he watches, no doubt with delighted eyes, and we'll celebrate together this ongoing experiment that is America.

Enjoy your Independence Day, and the independence that comes with it.

Posted by Ryan at July 2, 2010 06:44 AM | TrackBack

No buyer's remorse regarding "Aiden." I did do a quick anagram search on "Aiden Rhodes" just now, and I wasn't upset with the results.

Posted by: Ryan at July 5, 2010 12:09 PM
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