By Max Burbank
July, 16, 2001
Well, the 4th has come and gone. Another year, another cookout, another
set of colossal, inflamed insect bites accompanied by hypochondriacal
imagined symptoms of East Nile Virus and Lymes disease, another day
after spent nursing a violent hangover, screaming at the kids to 'for
Christ's sake shut up, can't you see Daddy's sick?', wishing like hell
you could get their attention by whispering, knowing full well you might
as well wish that the tears of rage were diamonds as big as hen's eggs,
and above all, another evening of fireworks.
So why write about it? What's
done is done, right? I like fireworks enough to put up with how much
I hate other people and my intrinsic distrust of self-congratulatory
spectacle in general and my government in particular, so what more is
there to say?
First, it's good to do a
little wrap up analysis of any event you intend to repeat, and 'B',
there's always the chance that a year from now you'll be mopping the
floor in a Mexican tattoo parlor and asking La Tourista if they could
help a fellow American out with any spare change they might have. Word
is, they don't have the 4th of July down there. Well, they have it,
it's hard to get to 5th of July without it, it's just not a very big
So. Having stretched my
word count to 238 without even starting this essay, I give you...
HOW TO WATCH FIREWORKS;
A PRIMER BY MAX BURBANK
1.) Arrive early. You want
a good seat, and you never know. This could be the year they start shooting
them off before sunset.
2.) Wait. This early stage
waiting is an excellent time to start working toward being abusively
drunk, although a seasoned fireworks pro begins this around noon in
the privacy of their own backyard, or behind a neighborhood dumpster.
Most public fireworks viewing spaces have a 'no alcohol' policy, but
it shouldn't be taken seriously. Do you think the founding fathers were
sober for even an instant during the revolution? Let me tell you - small
arms fire, Dysentery, Gangrene, starvation and all male companionship
go down a lot easier with a buzz on.
3.) If you brought your
kids with you, now's the time to yell at them. You want to do this while
it's still light enough so that other families know you have your offspring
under control. That way once it's dark you can let them run wild and
no one will guess they're yours. If you don't have kids, yell at somebody
else's. It's a great way to break the ice with their parents who may
well have better snacks than you.
4.) Speculate loudly about
when the hell they're gonna get this show on the road.
5.) Tell your kids it has
to be good and dark for a while before they can start the fireworks.
When they ask why that would be, see how many reasons you can come up
with that make any sense at all. 6.) Wait. Silently question why you
come so early every year as thousands of unsupervised teenagers crowd
in, obscuring your view.
7.) Speculate on just how
different Gay culture in America would be if halfway through the filming
of "The Wizard of Oz", Judy Garland suffered a stroke and the only one
who could take on her role and complete the filming was you. (not everyone
does this step, but ask around. I think you'll be surprised)
8.) Listen as the bovine
herd around you wonders whether the obviously cheap, privately owned
fireworks being shot off by neighbors might be the start of the show,
and if so why is this town always so damn stingy with it's tax dollars.
Chuckle knowingly while privately worrying if this actually might be
the case this year, even though it never has been before, even once.
9.) When the privately owned
fireworks end, see if you can be the first one to loudly joke that it's
now time to go home.
10.) Wait. To amuse your
family, play waiting for fireworks bingo. How many different whining,
complaining, crying children can you count? How many drunken fathers,
hollowly threatening to take everyone home right now? Use your flashlight
to pick out silently seething Mothers and Dates.
11.) The show begins. Everyone
will want to know your expert opinion on each firework, so make sure
you tell them.
12.) Wonder about Aerial
Bombs, those deafeningly loud, big white flashes. What's the point,
beyond reminding you that these lovely flashes of light are supposed
to remind you of intentional, lethal, bombardment? Does anyone actually
like them? Does the Mayor own stock? Are they really cheap? Do you get
them free when you order a certain amount of ordinance?
13.) Worry that the small
collection of fireworks that just went off together might be a particularly
lame grand finale. Recall wondering this every year of your whole life,
even though it's always quite clear when the grand finale takes place.
But what if this time it really is a particularly lame grand finale?
Allow yourself to experience crushing disappointment coupled with the
kind of depression that will put your head in the oven if your family
and everybody at the local Burger King are lucky in the instant before
the show starts up again.
14.) This small collection
of fireworks going off at the same time is a little bigger than the
last one. Maybe this is the grand finale. Wouldn't that be lame? What
the hell is wrong with this town? It's not like they spend the taxes
on the school system.
15.) Stare in slack jawed
wonder at the grand finale. They're so big! Pretty light go boom! Thank
God for the inventive spirit of the ancient Chinese and this great,
wonderful country of ours, its freedoms, the sacrifices of its brave
sons and daughters! Then tell everyone around you last year was better.
16) Bitch about the crowds,
the traffic and the failure of fat, complacent local cops to confiscate
illegal fireworks from dangerous unsupervised teens. Rage bitterly against
the triple overtime extorted from the town budget just so the local
boys in blue can make vague, non committal hand gestures at the slow
motion, Demolition Derby that just hours ago was a semi civilized parking
17.) Tell your family that
if this is how they want to spend the 4th next year they can damn well
do it without you.
18) in 365 days, repeat
these steps with as few variations as possible.