July 4 has never been one of my favorite holidays.
Now mostly on the 4th, I sit and listen to the amateurs try to blow of bits of their anatomy and scare peoples’ pets and upset folks with PTSD, and hope that they don’t set something on fire, and hope that it’ll all stop before midnight (hope springs eternal).
I don’t like loud bangs and flashes.
I have been known to ooh and ahh over the twinkly lights in the sky.
And, as a kid, I did like running around with sparklers – especially after dark.
But you also had to be careful with them – those little fuckers could burn the piss out of your hand – and if they got left on the lawn the next time you mowed, you got shrapnel.
When I played with the CSUN band, we got in to see the firework display for free – because we also had to play a concert.
But the best 4ths of July were the ones spent in Claremont – thanks to my friend Richard.
Claremont is a beautiful little university town.
Richard’s brothers lived and worked in the Claremont area and they all grew up in Pomona, which is Claremont adjacent.
So somehow or other, Richard ended up with a friend who set up the fireworks display for Claremont; and we got to tag along and help set it all up!
Mainly, I worked on the field displays – fireworks hooked to hunks of wood that, when lit, made pictures.
That just fit my skill level and my risk aversity level too.
If we wanted, we could also help set off the fireworks – like the big ones they put in tubes and shoot into the sky.
No thank you.
Way above my pay grade.
Richard loved doing that.
That is why sometimes after the 4th of July, Richard would be missing arm hair and one or both of his eyebrows.
No thank you.
I have never been a big fan of crowds – so it was nice to be able to just pick out our spot and hang – and hang until everyone left too – because we were totally blocked in by the folks coming for the fireworks.
We’d get to see everybody wander in and settle down on their blankets or in the bleachers.
Get to see the kids running around, all excited.
It was … nice.
And then we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor – and enjoy others enjoying the fruits of our labor.
And again, that was nice.
Richard would come check in with us between runs of shooting off the fireworks – letting us admire what portion of his anatomy he had charred since we last saw him.
And that was nice too.