Why is it that the fourth of July turns seemingly normal men into temporary pyromaniacs? I bet that's how those fires started when Yellowstone burned down years ago. Had my brother been in Wyoming at the time I would have guessed it was him.
It actually started with my brother-in-law Matt during our first beach vacation the last week of June. He showed up for the weekend giddy with his Costco purchase. I knew they sold toilet paper by the crate, but dynamite? Apparently for $30 you can walk out with enough explosives to burn down four sand dunes and two three story beach houses. You can always get a great deal there.
On our last night, after dinner, he grabbed a bag from the carport and announced he had a treat for all. The kids gathered around as he unpacked his treasure. On the side I saw the letters T N T. I felt like Wile E. Coyote. Had the Road Runner come to blow me up?
Have you ever tried to light a match on the beach? All the men in the family were expected to gather around the explosives to block the wind while Inferno Boy struck the match. If per chance the fuse did ignite, we were instructed to run like hell.
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After several attempts and extreme disappointment from Matt, we moved the package of pyrotechnics to our pier which was wedged between sand dunes. This time it lit. I took cover on the beach with the children, poised to jump in the Atlantic if necessary.
The sparklers began, flames popping out left and right. The wind carrying the balls of fire blocks away.
I'm sure the neighbors were appreciative of the free entertainment - well, those whose porches weren't on fire.
The next week, at the beach with my side of the family, my brother made the Zambelli's look like luminary lighters. His fireworks display put Matt to shame. Chad's rocketed 50 feet in the air and exploded like the ones you see on the National Mall in DC, although only one at a time.
As I watched him hover around the small round launcher, I couldn't help but think what might happen if a slight breeze blew the paper towel type holder on its side. Perhaps I'd be lucky and get out with only singed eyebrows. I could jump behind the neighbor's car - nah, probably has a full tank of gas. How many yards is it to the sound? Not sure I could make it with three kids in tow. Rockets are fast.
Fortunately for us, the launcher died after the third explosion. But that wasn't all. Now Grandpa stepped in with the sparklers. Finally, something my speed - a small handheld stick of fire.
Dang it. I'd forgotten how much they sting when the little flame shoots off and lands on your forearm. I should have brought the aloe.
I guess we were lucky. I was reading reuters.com and saw the following headline: Fireworks Accident Claims Man's Testicle.