Southern Stories
Jul 04/13

We’ll Return After These Messages in a Bottle Rocket Posted by: Dan | 0 Comments

A prevailing theme — or tradition, if you will — among my Fourth of Julys has not been flag waving or dad tearing up at the “Star-Spangled Banner” or lukewarm potato salad.

Probably much like your celebrations, it’s always been fireworks. But more specifically for me, bottle rockets.

The bottle rocket is fiendish. It’s a heat-seeking missile, ranking second only to mosquitos when it comes to sending party-goers running for cover. The bottle rocket is not showy, not bright or colorful. It can only whizz around and bang.

I maintain that the bottle rocket has been the source of more injuries and discomfort than even the much-maligned Roman candle. It’s volatile. It’s like the drunk uncle in the fireworks family. Light it up and watch it circle around until it pops off and passes out.

At least the Roman candle has the decency to look pretty and shoot where you aim it.

One July celebration I was pregnant with twins, resting my very heavy bones on some outdoor furniture, only to have a rocket do an about face and explode right past my head. That little scamp nearly had a trifecta.

But they’re not all bad. That same year one dipped out of the sky and landed in my father-in-law’s front pocket, where it promptly exploded, and with its dying denotation, did humanity a favor by destroying another Hawaiian shirt. Father-in-law was unscathed. The shirt was trashed. The bottle rocket was a fashion martyr.

When I was in high school, it was more lighthearted naiveté. My friends and I invented a game called Spin the Bottle Rocket. We stood in a circle, lit the fuse, dropped it and then ran. The thing would whizz around the ground like an angry hornet, and we’d hide behind cars, trees, bushes until we heard the pop and knew it was safe.

Now that I think about it, my peer group’s propensity for such games really explains why I remained abstinent for so long.

Like an unwelcome guest or that Lee Greenwood song, bottle rockets have been the inescapable constant in my Independence Days. And I’ve never even purchased one. They’re always there, always around, threatening my safety and adding a little adrenaline to the Fourth of July.

So what I’m saying is, when bottle rockets are around, watch your back. And your front. And your Hawaiian shirt. If you need me, I’ll be cowering behind the potato salad.



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