Misadventures with fireworks? Right here | Mann Overboard

Bill Mann
Posted 6/30/21

Big Bang Series: The love of fireworks — the smaller ones, not the colorful public displays — are mostly a guy thing. Testosterone poisoning. I’m a good example.

Aloha, oy: I …

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Misadventures with fireworks? Right here | Mann Overboard


Big Bang Series: The love of fireworks — the smaller ones, not the colorful public displays — are mostly a guy thing. Testosterone poisoning. I’m a good example.

Aloha, oy: I can’t believe I and my preteen pals living on an Army base in Hawaii used to casually carry around cherry bombs. At age 9 or 10. Those things can blow fingers off. God knows we probably came close.

Later, at my junior high in New Rochelle, New York, we regularly had assemblies at which our principal demanded to know who had wrecked the plumbing in the boys’ room by flushing down an M-80. (Recreational-ordnance footnote: Like cherry bombs, M-80s explode underwater, like mini depth charges.) You can imagine how many students’ hands went up. Clue: Fewer than one.      

Years later, up in Montreal, my stoner brother and I had the bright idea of shooting off firecrackers after getting loaded. My younger sibling lit one ‘cracker and threw it. At least he thought he did. He had actually thrown his lighter… and held on to the firework.  Oops. Bang! All the guys laughed, of course — shades of “Jackass” — as my brother writhed in pain. That cost him a couple of fingernails.

Twenty years later, in California’s bone-dry Sonoma County, a friend came up from San Francisco with some major pyrotechnics — exhibition- caliber skyrockets. 

Heedlessly, we shot one up, then I watched the embers slowly come down after the colorful explosion. But not all were burning out, I knew I was in deep doo doo. I’d set my neighbor’s field on fire. Then I heard the fire trucks. Way beyond embarrassing. Our kids ran into the house and hid. Smooth move, Dad! 

Years later, our fire chief still ribbed me about it. But my neighbors? As Queen Vic would say, “We are not amused.” 

Although I still love things that explode, I don’t approve of (or indulge in) this kind of explosive behavior any more, given the fire danger. But I still have to fight the impulse to wheel in to firecracker stands. That way lies madness. 

Admission: I did shoot off a few bottle rockets here in PT about 15 years ago, again risking neighbor upset. Since then, fireworks have became strictly a spectator sport for me.I’m a slow learner. 

— Hot Dogs: Years ago, before, hak kaff, yours truly signed on, the most amusing thing in the Leader were ads featuring talking, balloon-captioned photos of two dogs, shelties as I recall. I seem to recall the ads were for a local furniture store. I’ve always wondered why, given that this is such a dog-centric town, another advertiser hasn’t started using talking dogs in ads. Hey, wouldn’t YOU buy a three- piece sectional if a sheltie told you to? 

— Nice to see the only flagpole over a local government building, the police station at Mountain View School, proudly flying a Pride flag this month. 

— With hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs ongoing, we must mention “Slapshot. ” It is without doubt one of the funniest U.S. films ever. Its star, Paul Newman, once said it was his favorite film. The 1977 movie is a brilliant lampooning of hockey violence. Even non-hockey fans will find this well-written film hilarious. Not one bad scene.

— Can a swimming pool be snakebit? The one here is. First came a seemingly interminable 14-month COVID closure. Then, just as things were going swimmingly, came a long, three-week closure while a busted circulation pump was replaced. And, late last week, a two-day shutdown due to a water-main leak. What’s next … a plague of locusts?

— Valhalla, anyone? Want to try the nectar of the gods? That would be mead — and the honey-based fermented beverage is made right here in PT at Wilderbee Farms out on Cook just north of Hastings. It has a stylish, attractive new tasting room and meadery. Even the nearby gift shop is first-rate (no schlock). Aside from mead, Margaret, there are blueberries, lavender, and cut flowers. Owners Casey and Eric have created a first-class venue. 

— Speaking of agriculture, one of Steven Colbert’s viewers suggested this nickname for The 45th President: Old Wack Donald. 

— Fireworks Up North: Happy Holiday to our friendly and civilized next-door neighbor: July 1 is Canada Day. 

But down here, as Dorothy Parker observed: “What could be more American than celebrating the national holiday by drinking alcohol and handling explosives?”

(Contact PT humorist Bill Mann at Newsmann9@gmail.com.) 


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Ed S.

Bill’s column transported me back to my misbegotten Manhattan childhood (a long journey) when I, too, celebrated the Fourth and the rest of the summer with genuine Chinese firecrackers. My favorite maneuver was to unravel each fuse and blow out the black powder, making it a slow-burning fuse. Then in the early morning hours, I would light them and toss them through the open windows of basement apartments. Sometimes I would throw in an entire lighted pack — guaranteed to loosen the bowels of even the most constipated sleeper. Meanwhile, before the first “boom,” I would be more than a block away. Mom, if you are listening, I am deeply regretful and promise to never, ever do it again.

Thursday, July 1