The Fourth of July: Heads Will Roll, Fingers Will Fly

4 Jul

The Fourth of July is here. Many kids, most between 8 and 14, will begin the day with ten fingers and wake up tomorrow with something less than that. If I were to choose a number less than ten, I’d pick nine and I would give up my left pinkie. But that’s just me. A few people might even begin the day with a head on their shoulders and end the day without one.

Fargo Man Beheaded by Fourth of July Firework

I remember being in love with this holiday. Every year, we spent the Fourth at our cabin on Pana Lake. We would light stuff all day, beginning before breakfast. I probably slept with matches and dreamed of torching my pillow. Each year by dusk my fingers were black and sore. One time, messing around with a dud firecracker, I almost blew my face off. Every hair on my head, including my brows and lashes, were singed. The smell of burnt hair was sickening. Simply running a comb through my unruly hair was an exercise in futility. My mess of hair was frozen in time like I had used a whole bottle of Vitalis Maximum Hold Hairspray for Men, Scented.

One time shooting bottle rockets out over the Lake, our Coke bottle fell and rotated like we were playing Spin the Bottle (don’t play that with your cousins) and  it stopped pointed at our gathered family 50 feet behind and to the right of us. We all thought or said: “Oh Shit!” I pictured my mom on her back with that red stick poking from her eye, hair ablaze. What scared me most, though, was the possibility of having our lighters confiscated and replaced with fishing poles.

Luckily, the bottle rocket hit our Uncle Joey right in the ass despite his hilarious, ungraceful attempt to avoid it. The way I remember it, it appeared that we had launched a screaming heat-seeking missile that would have found that big butt no matter where he stood. If I could have picked one person for it to hit in the ass, it would’ve been him. Not that we didn’t like him, but because of his top-notch sense of humor and easygoing nature. It was the highlight of the summer. And best of all we were allowed to keep our one-day fire-starter permit. How often does shooting fire at family turn into a GOOD thing?

After dark the drunk adults took over to light the large, dangerous explosives because, of course, they were mature and responsible. My dad once threw an entire brick of firecrackers into the fire and almost burnt the cabin down and killed us all.

Really it was more fun to light those weird little snakes and play with sparklers than to watch the expensive stuff go off. I loved the fear in lighting and running, especially the short fuses. Though I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining to watch my dad at work wowing the family with his agility. Look at an online dictionary under HILARIOUS: you might see a video of my father, 16 beers down, shakily bent over a thick roman candle, finally touching fire to fuse, and then his stumbling attempt to avoid having his pants set afire. Not sure he would have noticed though.

That’s what The Fourth meant to me: the possibility of rushing somewhere with my dad’s head in a doubled-up grocery sack, leaving the cabin for good with my widowed mom.

Unless, of course, he killed us all.

2 Responses to “The Fourth of July: Heads Will Roll, Fingers Will Fly”

  1. Lunar Euphoria July 4, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Gettin’ drunk and blowin’ up stuff — Holiday fun!

    Hope your 4th is a (safe) blast. 🙂

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