Monday, June 29, 2009


     KA-BOOM!  That's the sound that fireworks make, and then there are pretty colors in the sky.  So I went to the Independence Day fireworks that weren't on Independence Day, despite the fact that I was complaining about them earlier.  And despite the fact that it was raining.  Mike-a-licious and I went and we met Janet From Another Planet and her entourage there and it was nice.  It was a pretty typical scene as far as fireworks go: A ton of cars packed into a tiny parking lot or two and lining every conceivable street and highway, people in camp chairs with coolers waiting for things to begin, and kids running around everywhere.  Oh, and the ubiquitous car with the alarm going off from the concussion of the fake grand finale that always comes in the middle of the show.
     I was glad I went though, because I had forgotten the magic of fireworks.  People always say that smell is the sense that is most strongly connected to memory, things like freshly cut grass, that grease-and-gasoline smell of a garage, grandmas chocolate chip cookies, etc.  And I agree to some degree, but there are other things that can do the same thing.  And fireworks are one of those things.  Think about it, man: you are standing there and looking up at the sky and suddenly you can be one of a million places.  And that's what happened to me at the fireworks.  Instantly I wasn't in a park in the next town over watching fireworks, I was on an airport infield watching fireworks going off, I was lying in a boat watching fireworks going off, I was sitting on my mom's roof watching fireworks going off, I was sitting on a rock with waves lapping at my feet watching fireworks go off, I was in a Garrison Keillor book watching fireworks go off over Lake Wobegon, I was sitting on the trunk of someone's car drinking a beer and watching the people up the street lighting off tons of fireworks in the street, I was in dozens of places that I have been and that I have never been, all while the sky lit up in green, red, blue, and white.
     Right in the middle of all this commotion in the sky I became aware that someone was clapping after every KA-BOOM!  I turned around and saw Janet From Another Planet's six-year old daughter, eyes locked on the sky, clapping after each explosion.  And we hadn't even got to the good ones yet.  That's another great thing about fireworks: the are mysteriously wonderful and almost better when you don't understand how they work.  I mean, I could sit here and explain how they work and all that jazz, but when you see them start to go off, unless you are in the fireworks business, you aren't thinking about timing fuses and what metals make which color, all you are thinking about are the amazing explosions in the sky.  And I have a hunch that the Chinese were intending exactly that when they took the time out of their busy day to invent fireworks.  It's not about the science for anyone except the guys lighting them off, it's about the entertainment.  It's about the wonder.  It's about the experience.  It's about being able to time travel and marvel and be oohed and ahhed by the fire in the sky.  It's about always being young and always living the good life.  That's what fireworks are all about.  That's the magic of the KA-BOOM!

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