Well, the day began tamely enough. As I mentioned before, I invited Mihoko over for the evening. I picked her up from the mall (I can't believe the mall was actually open), and we went mini-golfing with Nick and Jeff from there. After that, we had dinner at my house (Mom made Iranian food, w00t), then headed to Nick's for the fireworks. Literally and figuratively.
Nick and Jeff love fireworks. They look forward to this time of year specificially for the chance to light things that make pretty explosions, and they drive many hours and spend hundreds of dollars for the privilege. There's a problem, however... fireworks are illegal in our fine, anally conservative state. mqstout was questioning me about this, so I got clarification: yes, it's legal to sell fireworks in PA, just as long as you take them out of the state thereafter. That's why you sometimes see fireworks warehouses when you cross the state line. Other than that, you're only allowed to possess and/or light off sparklers, snakes, and fountains. Not that that stops them or anything. Nope, every year they faithfully make the pilgrimage to the holy Warehouse in Ohio, Great Supplier of All Things Pyrotechnic, and come home with stuff that truly humbles the neighbors.
Speaking of the neighbors, they'd never had a problem with us lighting stuff in the backyard. In fact, they invite people over, sit out on their decks, and watch the show, applauding the ones they really like. It's good fun for all- 'til this year.
After Jeff finished inviting over half a dozen people I'd never met before, we got down to business and were having a good time. You could hear four or five other "shows" going on around us, too, in other neighborhoods. Pennsylvanians like fireworks. Eventually, however, we see this huge strobe light pointing downhill at us. I had no idea what it was- it wasn't until people started saying, "Cut it out! The cops are here!" that I got a clue. Apparently, The Man was cracking down on amateur firework displays this year. The cop who stopped at our house was actually pretty nice. He didn't do anything other than warn us that, if someone called and complained, he'd have to come back and write us up, and he didn't want to have to do that.
I'll step aside for a moment to rant. I think legislation crafted in the name of "safety" is ridiculous. It's one thing to have laws saying that you can't sell something that you know is defective, but deceive people into believing is safe. It's another thing entirely to say that you can't sell or use something that, when used properly, hurts no one and lets people have a good time. And ironically, in this case the "good time" is a celebration of our freedom. "But fireworks are dangerous!" whine the detractors. Well, so are scissors, lawnmowers, electrical outlets- hell, ANYTHING improperly used has the potential to seriously fuck you up. So, is placing bans on these things really a solution? How about we ask people to be responsible for their own safety, instead of having the government play babysitter? That's novel...
Anyway, after the cop left, my future mother-in-law (FMIL) suggested that we head down toward the nearby lake to light off the rest of our stuff. My future father-in-law (FFIL... whoa that's my dad's name if you sound it out) agreed to drive out and sit at the side of the road some ways down from Nick's neighborhood, and call us if he saw a cop car coming. And if he did, we'd all know where to run.
So we went to the lake, and the second thing genius-boy Jeff lights off is a Toot and Twirl. I dunno if you've ever seen one of these things in action, but it's bright, it's big, and it's really damned noisy. We were laughing about how, if that wasn't a big ol' figurative middle finger to the police, nothing was, when we hear someone shout from across the street, "CUT THAT OUT! THAT'S TOO CLOSE TO MY HOUSE!"
Let me stress that: across the street. And we were in the middle of a clearing, about a football field's distance away. At first we thought he was kidding- the neighbors like to do that sometimes. Then we all shut up when he realized he was serious: half out of being startled, half out of being dumbfounded by the sheer stupidity of it all. Those fireworks couldn't even ignite the grass upon which they rested, and he was worried about his house a hundred freaking yards away?
Still, we were worried about cops, so we trudged on home to take our chances lighting the rest there. In the backyard. MUCH closer to Nick's house than we ever were to that other guy's house. We're all standing around in Nick's yard when we start seeing fireworks back down where the lake is. It was a 500-gram repeater, pretty impressive stuff. At first I thought one of the other neighbors had lit it off in support of us. Then, as the glow of each burst illuminated the ground, we all see Jeff running back toward Nick's yard like a mofo. I'm sure it lost a lot in the translation, but that was one of the most hysterical things I'd ever seen. Jeff said later that for him it was like the invasion of Normandy, and he was running away as shells were exploding all around him, but he was also trying to look back behind to see because hey, that was a $50 firework.
When he got back, Nick asked him why he'd done that.
"I thought you said to light off one more down there!" he replied.
"No, I said, bring it back here so we can light it off!"
I think subconsciously, Jeff wanted to light it down there just to piss off the unreasonable neighbor. So much for the retaliatory escapade.
We didn't stay outside much longer, because we kept worrying about the cops. But that worry, that element of danger, somehow made the whole experience more fun. Nick and Jeff have decided to go down to that angry neighbor's house sometime today to explain that his house was never in any danger, and that they've been doing this for years and don't flaunt safety precautions. We'll see how that goes.
If you actually made it down this far, you deserve some sort of reward, but I can't think of one... leave a comment and pester me for one, and I'll try to wrassle up something.