This year, it will be a relatively quiet celebration, except for any neighbors in good-old-fireworks-legal-South Carolina who may be putting on a show. We can usually count on a few teens nearby to pop off more than a few sizzlers, and Jamie and will venture into the backyard, beers or sodas (or bourbon) in hand, to watch the show.
Remembering our first July in this house, I think that the kids thought we were coming out to complain about the playing-with-matches-and-what-not already in progress:
A round goes off, we take our swigs and holler a hearty "WOO-HOO!" their way. They think (or so I like to think), "OK, those old farts are gonna be cool." Then a real old fart (who, surprisingly, is younger than we are) comes outside and throws off a few passive-aggressive huffs and puffs, only to be ignored. She (it's always a she) even walks over and says something to the teenagers, and then arms crossed, head down, still huffing and puffing, she radiates bitch-energy as she skulks back to her house.There's a pause in the show and we think that maybe the kids have bowed to young-old-fartista's will. Now I know they're thinking, "Crabby old fart," because we're saying, um, thinking, it, too.But, no. They're just stockpiling whatever mini-munitions they have left in a pile in the center of the cul-de-sac. One by one, their cars fill up and drive away. We notice, however, they've only barely driven outside the neighborhood gate and pulled over to the side of the main thoroughfare, still a good vantage point.When just one vehicle and two kids are left, our suspicions are confirmed. Ready ... driver starts the engine. Set ... passenger is poised at the end of a fuseline of sparklers. GO! Match is lit, dropped to the sparklers, and passenger hops in car, which pulls up even with our yard (I told you they knew we were cool) to watch the fuseline burn toward the pile'o'pops.And ... BOOM! HISS! CRACKLE! SNAP! POPOPOPOPOPOP! SSSHHHHCCCCOWWWW-OW-OW-0W! (that's what it sounds like to me; feel free to suggest alternate spellings below ...)The finale!We cheer! The kids beside us cheer! The kids on the road cheer!Just as it ends, a chorus of car horns starts up and they speedily retreat ... probably to buy more fireworks (it's only 10 p.m.) and go to someone else's neighborhood (the night is young) and piss off some other old fart (they're everywhere, you know).
Our one-time "new" neighborhood is filled with homes now, with no more open cul-de-sacs in which to host impromptu sky shows. Not sure where Ms. Young Old-Fart is. She didn't venture out and complain much anymore after that night. She still may be huffing and puffing, peeking out her window every time someone's music is too loud, someone's dog barks, or someone laughs just a little too heartily. I feel sorry for her, and she doesn't even know why.
Those same kids have grown up and have better things to do than hang around someone's yard on a hot summer night, drink beer or soda (or bourbon) and shoot off fireworks. They won't ask, but if they did, I'd tell them that one day they'll learn.
I'd tell them:
"Twenty, 30 — hell, if you're lucky enough to keep a laugh in your heart, 40 or 50 — years from now, you'll learn that walking into your backyard, holding hands, sipping on beer or soda (or bourbon); watching fearless teenage boys impress breathless teenage girls; oohing, ahhing, and woo-hooing while the grumpy neighbors harrumph wa-a-a-a-a-y before their time; telling each other stories of summers long ago, stories you've heard already, but love to hear again and again because of the twinkle in the eyes and dimples in the cheek of your storyteller; kissing in the moonlight before going back in the house ... You'll learn. You'll learn there is nothing better to do than just that."
But they won't ask. And they wouldn't listen. I wouldn't have.