The Danger of Fireworks
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Allow me to share with you my own story of some of the dangers of fireworks, which are an addition to the normal cautionary tales of lost fingers and eyesight destroyed. I'm going to be talking about embarrassing oneself on the beach, getting evicted from one's hotel, and tornadoes.
Let’s start with tornadoes, so that we can shoot the elephant in the room first, and not have him rampaging around while we talk about the other, less dangerous, things. I went to Myrtle Beach, SC, some years ago, for a wedding in some girlfriend’s family. It was around the July 4th timeframe, and we had been planning more for the wedding, than for the July 4th aspect. Why we men allow women to distract us from what’s important, is the subject of a different article.
Suffice to say that at or around noon of the 4th, I finally came to the realization that I had no matches, no lighter, and NO FIREWORKS! So I went out to get them. My girlfriend came along, as did a couple of her kids. We got the fireworks in short order, since it’s hard NOT to stumble across a fireworks bazaar on July 4th, in Myrtle Beach. There were signs all over stating that it was illegal to fire them off, but apparently they have no interest in preventing the sale of things that aren’t supposed to be set off. Sort of like sex and sexuality. We don’t want teens being promiscuous, but we’ll bombard them with images of other teens who have less than 2% of their oiled, provocatively posed, bodies covered with some clothing…
So, I got the goodies! Perhaps it was actually a good thing to have gone for the fireworks when I did, for it was in the act of returning to our hotel that I saw the debris in the distance begin to swirl. I had never seen the formation of a tornado in person, though I had seen developed tornadoes, and the formation of many a dust devil out west. I said to my girlfriend “look way up the road. Do you see that dust that’s twirling around? I’ll bet you a tornado is about to form”. She looked at me as if I was nuts. For about 3 seconds or so, because the next thing that happened was that a tornado formed. This whole event happened as a huge black cloud had come along, massive, black, bulging at various points with baby black clouds, and just nasty looking. We were driving toward the tornado, since that is the direction we needed to go to get to the hotel. My girlfriend began to freak out. What were we going to do? We couldn’t keep driving toward the hotel! We were going to die! The tornado was going to kill us! Do something! Stop driving! Turn around! My daughter is still AT the hotel! She’s going to die!
She was full of wisdom, advice, and orders. I was really interested in the tornado! The main thing I wanted to know was which direction it was going. That would help me know what the best direction would be for me to go. I also was very concerned for her other daughter, who was, indeed, in the hotel. It looked to me like the hotel and the tornado were very close. I told her to call her daughter’s cell phone, and tell her that a tornado is near the hotel, and that we would come to the hotel if we could, but that we might not be able to do so at the moment.
As we got close to the hotel, it was apparent that the tornado was beyond the hotel, but coming straight toward us, which meant it was coming straight at the hotel. The parking for the hotel was across the street from the hotel, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to try to park, and then run to the hotel, with a tornado approaching. And then I saw it. I had turned right, 1 block prior to the hotel, heading toward the beach access road, and there, beyond the hotel, was a waterspout. Heading, like the tornado, toward the hotel. Holy crap! People were running all over the place, dashing from houses, darting out into the street, dodging cars, and looking like deer on a highway at night. With a tornado and a waterspout approaching from different directions, I made another right turn and just drove. The weather system that had spawned the two twisters surrounded us, and for about 30 minutes we just drove in random directions, watching 4 or 5 new funnel clouds drop down, seeing large trees ripped apart, limbs flying through the air, turning here and there to avoid the latest threat.
And then it was over. The place looked like Sarajevo, or Baghdad, after a good bombing. The tornado and waterspout had joined together at the hotel, which suffered quite a bit of damage, but everyone was ok. We were ok. And the fireworks were ok.
I went to the beach that night, to fire them off. I had purchased a good selection. There was a launch tube for the triple bangers. It was tough to read the directions, since it was dark, but I could see others with similar items, and I figured it couldn’t be too difficult. The first cluster I attempted to launch resulted in a “WHUMP!”, and a “THUD”, and nothing. I wasn’t sure how long to wait before approaching the launch tube, but after a minute, I [poked at it, and nothing happened. I kicked it. Nothing. I picked it up, and the bottom was blown out. The three balls of the triple banger lay embedded in the sand. I put the launch tube down, figured the sand would serve as the base, and placed another triple banger in it, figuring I had a defective first set. I lit the second set, with the same result. “WHUMP!” “THUD”. Nothing. So I carried my goodies back up to the room.
I read the directions, and it turned out that I was placing the 3-ball unit into the tube backwards. Who would know?! So I commenced launching them from our 8th floor balcony. They were awesome! The “WHUMP!” still whumped, like the teenagers Honda with the 8,000 watt hip-hop mobile, but now the shells arced out about 200 feet and WHAMMO!, such lovely colors! After about 10 minutes, there was a knock on the door and a security guy asking if we were launching fireworks from our balcony. I lied, and said, “no, we’re just watching!” I resumed shelling immediately afterward. WHUMP! Fssssssss ,KABOOM! Reload. WHUMP! Fssssssss…. KA-BOOM! Reload. WHUMP! Fsssss…. Ka-BLAM!!!
Knock, knock, knock. The same security guard again, telling me to report to the front desk. The manager informed me that we were going to have to leave, since launching fireworks from the balcony was “VERBOTEN”! And that we had already used up our warning, when I had lied about launching fireworks. I did my best song-and-dance routine, and after 5 minutes, the guy got tired of listening and said “no more fireworks from your balcony”, and I went back, chastened. I wondered who had complained about my launching, wishing to throw just one fragmentation device their way, prior to hitting the beach again. I returned to the spot from which I had tried to launch at the start, seeking to restore my credibility there amongst the people who had seen me launching triple-bangers into the sand. But they were gone.
So I kept the supplies, and we took them home with us. They’re probably still in her garage, since I don’t think any other man has been dumb enough to date her, since I came to my senses and bailed out. Her answer to any problem was to scream. Louder than a triple-banger.
Imagine yourself, trying to think your way out of a tornado encounter, and all you can hear is a screaming woman, and the screaming cries of 2 of her daughters, scared out of their wits by the weather, and Mommy’s screaming and ranting. So that’s pretty much it. Read the labels before it gets dark, don’t go looking for fireworks when tornadoes are forming, and if your new girlfriend shows signs of being unstable, don’t pride yourself on your ability to deal with that crap until she gets better, because she won’t. Get out. Now!