About this time every year I get a tingling in my right arm. There’s a small scar there and over the years it’s faded till you can barely see it. I know where to look and it’s difficult for even me to find sometimes. It starts tingling around the 4th of July every year. You see, it’s from a firecracker and when I start hearing the sounds of fireworks at night the tingling starts.
When I was a kid fireworks were a very important part of our Independence Day celebrations. In those days you could buy just about any kind of fireworks you wanted. Every kind of explosive from the small but powerful Ladyfingers to bigger Black Cats to the King of them all, the M-80. My friends and I could come up with all sorts of creative ways to have fun with fireworks. A 2″ Black Cat would blow a tin can 100 feet in the air. M-80s were powerful enough to do serious damage to a school toilet. If you had a piece of pipe and a bottle rocket you had an instant rocket launcher. We had plenty of bottle rocket wars but some of our favorites were Ladyfingers. They were tiny, barely an inch long, but they packed a punch. One year we came up with quite possibly our dumbest stunt ever. My friends and I decided it would be good great fun to light a Ladyfinger and toss it at someone. If you were lucky and they were unaware, when the thing went off it would scare them out of 10 years of growth.
Somewhere along the way it turned into a war. Light a Ladyfinger and toss it at someone who was in the process of lighting one to toss at you. Sort of like dodgeball with explosives. And that’s where the scar came from. I was lucky….the Ladyfinger that was tossed at me and landed on my arm while I was taking a drink of soda didn’t explode. At least not on my arm. But the burning fuse seared a nice little reminder in my skin and when it healed a couple of weeks later there was a scar that has been with me for well over 50 years. And every year it tingles a little bit when I hear fireworks going off.
It’s been a while since I bought fireworks. My youngest child will be turning 30 in a couple of weeks and the last time we frequented one of the fireworks tents was when he was still a pup. Every year I hear on the news about the restrictions imposed by the individual municipalities: Nothing that explodes. Nothing that leaves the ground. Yada Yada Yada…Then I hear the explosions at night and wonder why they bother. People will get the fireworks they want. Heck, it’s only 2 hours to Wyoming and the first thing you see when you cross the border is a huge fireworks stand.
Last year a prominent NFL player had his thumb and a couple of fingers blown off by a firework gone rogue. He’s no longer able to hold up his index finger indicating “We’re Number 1” and I’m sure he has a tough time scratching his nose. I was lucky that I just got burned with a fuse, not an exploding firecracker. Every year there are hundreds of injuries caused by misuse of fireworks. My wife has a cousin that lost an eye in a bottle rocket war.
So this year I’ve decided to start an initiative: To steal a line from my friend Tom Guffey, “Refuse the fuse.” If you must satisfy your Jones for fireworks there are dozens of professionally executed shows everywhere. Believe me, they are a lot safer and more efficient than you would ever be. Just say no to fireworks. Leave it to the Pros.