Tuesday, June 29, 2010
If I were to play word association this time of year it would go something like this: "July 4th ~ fireworks. Fireworks ~ explosives. Explosives ~ dangerous. Dangerous ~ my husband"......and to be honest, I can't help but cycle through that string of associating words every year as we approach America's Birthday.
It should come as no surprise to learn that my husband has an infatuation with things that carry potential to inflict bodily harm, so why should long wicks on shiny pieces of explosives packaged in brightly colored boxes at Walmart be any different? And those are the legal ones. Our friendly neighboring state is kind enough to sell the illegal variety right off the interstate.
For many years I was able to limit him to the legal, albeit dangerous, assortment from Walmart. With exception of a few minor mishaps, those were pretty uneventful. That is until a 'friend' from work gave him a half a stick of dynamite. The details of that exchange are still unclear. I have no clue why that 'friend' had any dynamite or why the topic was ever brought up in normal conversation. It's not outside the realm of possibility that his eyes lit up at the mention of it, but how that turned into 'gifting' him with some is beyond me. I'm embarrassed to admit that the dynamite lived in one of my kitchen drawers for several months. (I'd like to think I'm smarter now.) I thought he had forgotten about it. Little did I know the plans he had in mind.
Enter July 4th, 2000......He duct taped that dynamite to a bottle rocket from Walmart in the middle of the street in our crowded neighborhood. I have no idea what he thought would happen, but I can tell you what did happen. As expected, his preparations drew a large curious crowd.....red neck, duct tape, dynamite, bottle rocket.....that's a no-brainer. (Another quick word association: "Crowd = witnesses.") Anyhoo, the stage was set and the wicks were lit. Here's a tip: The explosive with the shortest wick will detonate first. That being said, the bottle rocket was the first to go, but instead of going up, the weight of the dynamite pulled it down and straight through a crowd of witnesses, who scattered just as the bottle rocket hit the front porch of a house across the street.....and then the dynamite detonated.....and exploded a perfectly good set of patio furniture. Before the smoke cleared, he ran into the house to hide. When I found him he was repeating, "I'm going to jail, I'm going to jail." I finally convinced him that his only option was to go apologize and pay for the damages. (There were witnesses, after all.) I was the one hiding in the house as he dragged himself across the street and was surprised when he returned just a few minutes later and happily announced, "Great news! They were evicted two weeks ago!"
He was much more careful in the years to follow. There was a small lapse in judgement in 2001 when he threw what he thought were 'duds' into our bonfire pit. Turns out they weren't 'duds' and a few months later we were flying out of our lawn chairs and taking cover as we initially thought someone had opened fire on us while we were roasting hot dogs.
But things went terribly wrong again in 2003 when he decided to go to that friendly neighboring state and load up on 'big ones' for my family get together at my uncle's house. Did you know that there are fireworks that, once lit, shoot off twelve at a time? Did you know that once lit, there's no way to stop the process until it's over? Did you know that if one of those should tip over from the force of the first shot that the force of each shot thereafter would continue to flip it in different directions causing a catastrophic game of 'Firework Russian Roulette?' With all of that in mind, my husband single handedly almost killed off my entire side of the family who stood on my uncle's porch in a state of shock watching each explosion like a deadly tennis match and counting down from twelve. (If not for quick reflexes and military training my cousin wouldn't be here today. My other cousin ran with her baby to the basement as though it were Armageddon.) After the twelfth and final shot, we breathed a collective sigh of relief and for several seconds nobody said anything. My Mamaw Putter finally broke the silence when she said, "Where'd you find the kind that shoot off to the side like that?" (At least someone was impressed and nobody had the heart to tell her that he had just almost killed her and all of her off-spring.)
There is a 'no fireworks' rule at our house. A couple years ago we had to expand that rule to ban him from even 'helping' with fireworks at any house after he assisted our neighbor with his display and a flaming firework landed back into the box of unlit fireworks, detonating them all, and sending our neighbors family flying for shelter.
I'm convinced that God is watching out for us and those who have the misfortune of coming into contact with us. I picture morning 'staff-meetings' with all the guardian angels and God randomly draws a name to see which guardian angel has to cover the Courter Family that day. I can't help but wonder how many have gone into early retirement on July 5th.......