With Saturday being the Fourth of July and the start of America’s 233rd year, I would like to honor our fine country’s independence by telling you exactly how not to honor our fine country’s independence: by purchasing, lighting and displaying Snakes, the world’s stupidest firework.
Since my childhood, I have loved fireworks. I’m not necessarily talking about the big citywide Zambelli shows where people in the crowd try in vain to remember which FM station is broadcasting the patriotic musical accompaniment; those are good, but they can’t compare to the miniaturized action-movie thrill of taking a match to something so it can shoot fire and blow up. Tanks, spinners, firecrackers, Roman candles and the infamous Mr. Cuckoo: all good for shooting across the patio and blowing holes in a coffee can. What would the Fourth be without the “PHWEEEEET … POP!” of bottle rockets resonating throughout the suburbs? There’d probably be a lot more fingers and fewer high-school kids lighting their shirts on fire — good one, Bill — but ours would be a less-jubilant nation without the ability to celebrate America through novelties from China.
Each year on the Fourth, my family would head out to one of my aunts’ houses out in more exurban parts near Pittsburgh for burgers, orange pop, water balloons and Ohio-bought fireworks in the driveway at dark. Everyone would ooh and ahh at the tanks, spinners, etc. — though probably just to humor us kids — and then it would be time for the lowlight of the night: Snakes.
I don’t even know how these things showed up every year, but inevitably someone would slide the telltale black discs out of a red box, set them on the driveway and let the disappointment begin. Here’s a video to show you just how crappy Snakes truly are. I mean that literally, too: they very much resemble a growing pile of black excrement.
One year I paid $10 for a fat, tall, missile-looking firework at Phantom Fireworks, and after excitedly saving it for the evening finale, it shot up into the night sky and fizzled as nothing more than a bottle rocket. Yet that letdown, which was substantial, will never compare to a burned-out box of Snakes for firework impotence.
Our country was born in a burst of pride, freedom and the human spirit, lit up by the fires of war with Britain. It was a powerful and vivid moment in world history, one that would shape the fate of humanity forever. There are poignant and powerful ways to celebrate those concepts, and then there is the opposite: Snakes. Screw ’em.
Enjoy the Fourth!