the grinch of july 4

I have a secret that I only share with certain people, which, as of this very posting is not-so-secret anymore. I mean, not that like 99.99% of people could give a hoot, but hey, I’m coming out anyway. So here goes: I hate fireworks. Almost as much as I hate smoking. Except, not quite as much. But almost.

Now that I’ve come out with this bold statement, I must retract a bit to clarify. I don’t hate ALL fireworks. In fact, back when I was a young, silly lad-ette, I had the pleasure on more than one occasion of fighting the 10 gajillion people on the National Mall in the sweltering humidity that typically defines the 4th of July in the nation’s capital to see the annual spectacle in the sky. And, even though you couldn’t have paid me a similar amount of money to fight those crowds after I got older and had “been there, done that,” like so many things I experienced during my time as a Washingtonian, I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to see it. I even have positive memories of fireworks shows at a local park when growing up in the now, as of this past week, largest-city-in-America-to-ever-go-bankrupt Stockton, Calif. I’m guessing the city doesn’t host those fireworks shows anymore…

But now as Portlander, my experience with fireworks is defined by all the average Joe’s who like to start shooting off their down-the-road-fireworks-stand devices starting about a week before the 4th, lasting until about a week after. I especially love when I’m jolted out of a deep sleep by the shocking “pow, pow!” of distant neighbors who decide it’s only fun to shoot off fireworks in the middle of the night. (Preferably the night before I have to get up super early or have some big meeting.) Plus, think of all the poor pets out there who spend the 4th and the surrounding nights buried underneath their owners’ beds for fear of not knowing when they are going to feel as though they’ve been put in the middle of war zone. And last, but most certainly not least, what makes me the most frustrated is waking up the morning after the 4th and hearing the stories of fireworks-related calls the night before that, at best, were simply a drain on taxpayer resources and at worst, caused injury or heaven forbid, death.

I mean, not to be a total Debbie Downer because I know that they can be fun…but at what cost? Starting accidental fires? Injuring children? Scaring pets and little kids to death? There are a few things in life that I find little need for in this world, and I have to say that home-use fireworks are one of them. They are annoying. They are dangerous. And, ultimately, in my opinion they are an unnecessary risk. To summarize, let’s just say that I would not lose any sleep (in fact, dare I say I would likely gain some sleep?) if someday all but permitted, professional fireworks’ shows became illegal. So there – now I’ve said it.

Happy Independence Day. (And to my mom, Happy Birthday!) Now, can someone please pass the barbecue chicken and watermelon?

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