And why wasn’t I invited?
Is it the Fourth of Jul- no. It’s only the second.
And yet, I hear artillery shells and blackcats.
Come to think of it, I’ve been hearing and seeing loads of fireworks for… hmm, going on two weeks now.
My phone, calendar, laptop, and any bank with a marquee can’t all be wrong.
I mean, it’s still not Independence Day.
It just isn’t.
I’m sure a lot of Americans (who am I kidding, no one reads this tripe) are rolling up their sleeves, revealing bald eagle tattoos right about now, but hear me out:
IT JUST ISN’T THE FUCKING FOURTH OF JULY YET.
I have video on my phone of a brilliant fireworks display that I could see from the comfort of my apartment. Know what the date is on that video? JUNE FUCKING TWENTIETH.
Like… seriously. That’s jumping the gun QUITE a bit.
And I know, I know. There are family get-togethers and timing isn’t always the best where everyone can be around and there are folks who can shell out $100k on some boomers for their summer block party and there are kids who found the sparklers and smoke bombs in the garage and Lord knows those aren’t enough to appease, so mom and dad said, yeah, let’s just get our shit out of the way early and just a plethora of ‘reasons’ and reasons one might decide to not wait until the actual Fourth of July.
Which is a Friday this year, by the way.
It falls perfectly for the first time since 2008 (I checked). You likely don’t have work the next day, you get the whole goddamn weekend to leave burns on the driveway and make sure there won’t be a mosquito for ten square miles.
Look, I know this sounds very unpatriotic and bah humbug and commie, but lend me your imaginations for a second:
Think back to when you were a kid, or even probably last year when people actually were patient enough to wait until the Fourth. Okay, just think back to when you were a kid:
If you were like me and my family, and most families in our neighborhood, and most families in Omaha, I’d reckon, we would drive to Fort Calhoun or wherever, stock up on blackcats and roman candles and those fucking snakes that make a mess and those little tanks that shoot fire out of their asses and what mom would call ‘screaming mee-mees’ and just all sorts of shit. My brother and I would see them in the mud room or the garage, just waiting to be used. Usually, we’d talk dad into letting us light all the pointless smoke bombs and probably most of the bottle rockets in the days leading up to the Fourth, but the Fourth was when it all went down.
We’d have some family over and set up lawn chairs and when the kids were old enough, we’d get to light the fireworks, hearing everyone shouting “run, run, run!” as soon as they saw the sparks from the fuse, airing as much confidence as possible while still having that bit of panic in the back of your mind like, what if I don’t get away in time, what if it looks like a dud and I go up to try to re-light it and it blows up in my face?
The smell of sulfur or whatever so strongly in the air (which I secretly love) and knowing that bug spray would not be necessary that night and probably the night after.
Most importantly: hearing the booms and seeing the flashes of light from down the street and across the ravine and even across the highway, because those people shelled out for theirs. Just knowing that tonight was the night of magic and oohing and ahhing.
This year, and I swear it’s not because I’m a curmudgeonly quarter-lifer, I find myself getting more and more frustrated when every. single. night. there are at least fifteen families within eyesight lighting off their fireworks.
I love fireworks. I think they’re a marvel. I think they’re beautiful. Fireworks shows (especially those set to music) make me cry. I love the blue ones and I love the gold ones that pop open and then the ends fizzle and crack and look like glitter. I always wish I could stand under one as it rains down beauty upon me, but I know I’ll catch flame.
Would you open all your Christmas gifts on December 1st? Do you have Thanksgiving dinner on some random ass Tuesday? How about for Halloween: Do you go trick-or-treating on the 26th? Which is my birthday, by the way, so don’t do that.
And I know, I know, like I said, family things and timing and getting everyone together when you can is tough – especially when we get older and have our own schedules and whatever. I get it. I really do.
It’s just that I want it all at once. And I want everyone to wait so that it’s that much bigger, that much better, that much louder, that much brighter. I want to stand on my porch this Friday and see the night sky completely filled with color. I want the bursts to reflect off of my tear-soaked cheeks. I want to be breathless with the sheer enormity of celebration.
Because that’s what the Fourth of July is all about, to me. Being overwhelmed. We’re proud to be American every day of the year, but on Independence Day, it’s all five senses.