Everyone who has teenage boys and a husband raise your fists in the air and say with me, “PYROMANIACS UNITE!”
Every 4th of July, the smell of testosterone mixed with gunpowder permeates throughout my house. All day long, men and boys pace like lions ready to pounce on an antelope and the only thing that keeps them distracted from the evening festivities is a handing them a flimsy paper plate full of food and one Black Cat to light every hour until it is dark.
“This is the longest day of my life!” my son whines at noon.
At 3:00 p.m. my husband begins his annual around-the-world countdown. He looks at his watch, recently synchronized down to the exact second, and announces emphatically, “In Australia, they are lighting off their fireworks RIGHT NOW!”
All the boys sigh and begin twenty non-stop minutes of whining about why they can’t live in another part of the world where the 4th of July comes much sooner.
At 4:00 p.m., he says, “In London, I imagine they are having a beautiful display RIGHT NOW!”
The boys start crying.
At 4:01 p.m., I rip the watch off my husband’s wrist and threaten to take all his fireworks away unless he stops his around-the-world countdown.
As dusk begins to fall over our suburban neighborhood, the men and boys line up their pyrotechnics like little soldiers along the driveway. The boys ask, “Dad, is it dark enough? Is it? Is it? Huh? Huh? Huh?”
My husband, never wanting to be the one deliver bad news responds, “Ask your mother.”
My son and his friends swarm around me like mosquitoes. “Can we light something off, Mom? Please, please, please … can we? Huh? Huh? Huh? The Smiths are already lighting off their fireworks down the street!”
I look down the street at the Smiths. The mother is sitting in her lawn chair resting her head in her hands. Her eyes are closed and it appears that she is praying. The father is smiling as he lights a long fuse and yells to all the boys who are standing behind him wearing Army helmets, “STAND BACK SOLDIERS … SHE’S GONNA BLOW!”
I throw my hands in the air and say, “Just start lighting something. Anything. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”
My husband springs into action and begins barking orders like the pyrotechnical wizard he has become in recent years. “Boys, here’s your punks,” he announces as he lights the tiny wooden sticks.
As the first smoke bomb rolls down the street, I yell nervously, “DON’T BLOW UP YOUR APPENDAGES!”
Together, the men and boys yell back, “MOM, STOP WORRYING!”
In thirty seconds, our neighborhood sounds like a war zone. Smoke hangs heavy in the air and huge fiery bombs explode over our roof. I begin coughing and crawling along the driveway to my front door. “Save yourselves!” I shout to the other mothers on my block who appear to be gasping for air in their driveways.
I manage to make it inside where I see the dog laying in the fetal position with her paws over her ears. “Hang on sister,” I say to her while gently coaxing her on the couch with me. “Don’t worry,” I coo, “they only have $3,000 worth of fireworks to blow up. It’ll all be over in five short hours.”
I pause for a moment and add, “That is, until they realize they forgot about a whole other box of fireworks in Dad’s trunk.”