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To celebrate our nation's independence, I went out in the street and set fire to a pile of money. And I wasn't alone.

I was so "not alone," in fact, that my relatively quiet suburban neighborhood looked like the Do Lung Bridge scene from Apocalypse Now. (If you don't know, look it up. That's what YouTube is for, children).

Despite my inability to get past the fact we're burning up my money, the fireworks we deployed were pretty impressive. Bright colors, healthy "booms," neat zigging and zagging, all conducted in as safe an environment as possible with no signs of the sort of general malevolence that led to the Great Pulaski County Fireworks Fight.

Which, as a former resident of Central Arkansas, I can tell you is about par for the course. Because ... well, Central Arkansas: It's why the state can't have nice things.

Anyway, we lit off fireworks again this year, which is always problematic for me. I mean, yes, there's the money. And in true Dad fashion, we can pause on that for a bit. And circle back around. And pause some more.

But there's always the fact it's an inherently dangerous activity being performed by folks with limited experience with explosives who may or may not be "their best selves" at the time. Or who don't really understand you can't backpedal in flip flops.

Still, I'm drawn to fireworks like a moth to flames. Or an armadillo to the interstate. In the abstract, we probably all understand it's a bad idea. But in the moment -- "pretty!!!"

Which is why we found ourselves at one of those massive tents with arsenal-style stockpiles of exploding stuff, wondering if everyone there fully grasped the significance of the "No Smoking" signs. We were also evaluating the features of lots and lots of brightly-colored boxes of fireworks.

A note: Fireworks fall into two categories -- those that "shoot flaming balls" and "everything else, including those weird chicken deals that spit black stuff out and make a sound like poultry meeting an untimely end."

It was also why we were out in our street, trying not to get run over by cars whose drivers were fascinated by all the things blowing up in the air around them. I think "fascinated." Maybe "terrified," but let's go with "fascinated."

What made this year even more entertaining was that our new neighbors and their parents got to observe all this first hand.

Part of our neighbor's fascination was that in their home state, it's illegal to have fireworks that explode in the air. Which, I will note, seems like the very best place for things to explode. Not on the ground where the people are.

And while basic politeness to strangers in what I'm sure to them is a strange land kept me from making that observation out loud, I did reassure them that what was going on all around them (sometimes literally. You let off those tracers, just ain't no telling where they're going to wind up), was both perfectly legal and generally encouraged.

In the "blow things up, don't blow things up" debate, as a state, we're very much in the former camp. In fact, Arkansas' motto is the Latin version of "Here, hold my beer." OK, it's not, but since no one knows Latin anymore, it could be and none of us would know.

Actually, it's "Regnat populous", roughly, "The People Rule." And since we all want to shoot off fireworks, well...half right.

Speaking of people and fireworks, I was (sort of), in attendance at the "wow, that's a lot of fireworks" fireworks show put on by a large church in my general neighborhood. That is to say, I was sitting in a bag chair in a bank parking lot, which put me close enough.

That was as impressive a display as I've seen, both for length and breadth. And yes, flaming balls were shot.

I never really have understood the juxtaposition of fireworks and organized religion, specifically to the degree it's carried out in this parts. But then, for years I've been more than comfortable with the shoehorning of a mythic rabbit who breaks and enters your house into the most sacred of Christian holidays.

So, in true Southern passive-aggressive fashion, maybe I should just enjoy the show and keep my smart remarks to myself. Things don't really have to make a lot of sense to be fun. In fact, sometimes it's better if they don't.

Like lighting a pile of money in the street.

Commentary on 07/12/2019

Print Headline: Apocolypse yeow!

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