July 06, 2005

Lesson learned?

I am but a creature of habit. My actions and thoughts are strongly influenced by my routines. When my routine is thrown off, then I have to improvise. This is where I get into trouble. Routine and structure is what keeps me from displaying all the impulsive behavior that gets me into trouble. Let me give you an example.

Routine: I set off fireworks in my back yard after watching the professional display every Fourth of July.

Routine Failure: Due to Clone being sick all weekend, my wife and I being tired, and having to work on the Fifth; we did not set off fireworks after the show.

Now I know this seems like a harmless little break in routine. This example however makes for the incident that occurred last night. It was this break in my routine that caused my brain to override the “Good better” judgment controls. To tell this story properly I am going to start at the beginning.

Last Fourth of July I traveled by myself to Wisconsin to buy fireworks. Every year I go to the same place, I’ve gone there since I was 10 years old and I will continue to go every year, it is part of my routine. When I walked last year I was like a kid in a candy store, I went nuts buying many different items. What I hadn’t realized was the fact they where having a two for one sale. I ended up buying twice as much as I reasonably needed. (Notice I didn’t say wanted… I can never have too many fireworks). When I returned home with a Ford Ranger full of rockets and fountains, my wife told me I was no longer allowed to go firework shopping on my own again. That brings us to this year. The whole family comes with while I buy fireworks and again there is a two for one sale. Now this year I remembered it was a two for one sale and was going to curb my spending. However, my wife was with me to keep me in check. (Break in routine) I just kept buying waiting for her to say “DEAR GOD NO! YOU DO NOT NEED ANOTHER FIREWORK!” Instead she asked me to pick up a couple of fountains she liked thus encouraging my impulsive behavior. I ended up coming home with more fireworks this year then last year. (Consequence)

In 2004 when we were setting off fireworks in our back yard, Grau brought over this one called the weeping willow or something like that. It looked just like a bunch of fountains I had. Unfortunately, this was actually a bundle of mini-mortars that shot exploding balls into the air one right after the other. It was like a homing beacon for the cops to come and arrest us. The cops never came and we vowed not to do that again. So when we where buying fireworks I made sure that I only bought ones from the “Fountain” section for lighting off in the back yard. I know this is a little off topic, but keep this in mind for later, it is a VERY important detail.

Every Fourth of July we leave early to set off rockets in the field we sit in. This year we were shut down by the man. (Break in routine.) My need to set things on fire or blow them up was not satisfied. Normally this wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, however mix that with my original example and we have the formula for disaster.

Yesterday, upon arriving home, I saw the stack of fireworks sitting in my office. I turn to the oldest boy and say, “We are setting those off tonight.” After I finish cleaning up from the previous day’s party, making dinner and updating the Spoon and Blade, I grabbed the fireworks and the family. We went into the back yard for big explosion fun.

I had two different types of giant fountains among all the other assorted fountains I bought. I thought I would start the show with one of the big ones. I’m anxious to get my firework fix; I didn’t get to set many off the previous day. I was hurting bad. I didn’t read the label on this “Fountain” before I lit it as I normally do. Setting down on the ground a safe distance from the house and garage, I lit it and ran. The next thing I know there is a muffled explosion quickly followed by a much louder one and a shower of sparks about 100 feet over my head. I’m having flashbacks to last year. Only this time it was worse. Last year there were maybe 12-15 mini-mortars. This bundle of joy I set off had 36. It would set one off every 5 seconds. For three minutes, this “fountain” was shooting exploding flairs into the evening sky. That was a long three minutes. After it was finished, I waited to see if there where any sirens… Nope, not a one. Back to the fun at hand.

We are lighting all the other fountains when I have a break in routing failure. I have this other large “fountain” that was on the shelf right next to the big one I had let off earlier. Ironically, it was named “Big Trouble”. The label said, “Shoots flaming balls into the air with report.” My brain not having the fun that was so badly needed in setting off skyrockets and fireworks the night before starts justifying lighting this. I swear by all that is right and good in the world that my brain convinces me “That’s just the flaming balls that come out of regular fountains that crackle really loudly. It’s okay to set this one off.” My “better” judgment center screamed “NO, FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE, DO. NOT. DO. THIS!” The mischievous part of my brain says, “C’mon it’s just a fountain. We bought it in the “Fountain” section. The last one was a fluke. What are the chances of anyone making that mistake twice? Just set it off.” The rest of my brain then says in the dopey sounding rube voice, “Oh… all right, you’ve never gotten me into trouble before!”

I set the fountain on top of the cooled off remnants of the previous large fountain. I light it and run back. My wife notices what I did right as the fuse ignited. She screams, “NO, DON’T DO THAT!” Too late, the fuse was lit. The fuse was quick to get into the tube, but then there was nothing. I thought I had a dud. That was when it happened. A louder muffled explosion, then a high-pitch scream as (to quote my wife) “A screaming sperm of sparks heads into the night sky”. It explodes loudly about 150 feet up in a large star. This is followed about 15 seconds later by another. Every 15 seconds it would send up another one. Did I mention they exploded loudly? I did, good because when I say loud I’m talking really damn LOUD! Its bad enough they screamed in a high pitch whistle from the time they leave the tube until they reached their peak, but the explosion was enough to rattle my molars. I have neighbors climbing out of their houses convinced my house had finally caught fire and the cans of black powder where exploding. This inch and half diameter, ¼ inch- thick tubes that held the charges come falling back to the ground. They pelted everything around them with enough force to cause a noticeable noise on impact. It took one of these tubes hitting me in the head to make my brain admit, “This was a mistake.”

After the fifth one went off, I could hear sirens. They are getting closer and closer. People are gathering around the street to watch. I’m standing there just chanting, “Please stop, please stop, please stop” If finally quits after 20 of the flaming sperms have exploded. I can see the reflection of the emergency lights off trees. I’m sure I’m going to jail or one of the falling tubes hurt someone.

The sirens are about a block away and they keep going… it was an ambulance on its way to the hospital. There were no other emergency vehicles responding to my neighborhood. My wife looks at me with her arms across her chest. I say, “I guess that was a bad idea.” She makes a tsking noise and says, “Ya think?” I sent the older boy to go around and pick up as many of the fallen tubes as possible. There where tubes five houses in every direction. After the quick clean up we finish setting off all the ground fireworks. We had some pretty impressive fountains. I’m sure that if I had been able to set off the fireworks the night before this wouldn’t have happened. I would have not been so desperate to blow something up that I almost took out my neighborhood.

Posted by Contagion in Shenanigans at July 6, 2005 01:08 PM | TrackBack

Gotta love fireworks. We can't live without mortars. We put so many off that we probably need a license or something!

Posted by: Oddybobo at July 6, 2005 02:26 PM


Posted by: vw bug at July 6, 2005 06:15 PM

I'm coming to your house for 4th of July next time!

Posted by: Sissy at July 6, 2005 06:27 PM

I think I will be heading to your house next year too! LOL I still have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard!

Posted by: Denise at July 6, 2005 07:05 PM

So THAT's what hit me in the head! I should have known since it came from your direction...

Posted by: Virtue at July 7, 2005 12:28 AM

I wondered who that was setting those darn things off while I was trying to sleep!

Posted by: Ogre at July 7, 2005 09:32 AM