On this 4th of July our local municipalities will fork over heavy cash for fireworks. While I appreciate  colors exploding in the sky bring the community together, no matter how expensive or well choreographed this Thursday night’s display might be, one exhibition from my youth will always put other fireworks to shame.

There was a local kid, there was probably one in every neighborhood, who was able to get his hands on dangerous items. Playboy magazines, he had. Pornos on worn out VHS tapes, he had. And of course he had firecrackers.

Bottle rockets we could shoot out from our apartment balconies. Smoke bombs and stink bombs we could leave at people’s doorsteps, ring their doorbell and run. There were the black cats that merely made a lot of noise. And then there was the holy grail, the M-60. According to neighborhood legend, you tied 4 of them together you had a stick of dynamite. Who was I to doubt them? M-60s were loud and dangerous, red and cylindrical just like the dynamite in cartoons.

One afternoon we were left with only one M-60. We walked around and around looking for the perfect spot. Finally we found it. A giant piece of dog poop left on the grass, the type that probably came from a St. Bernard. Before I knew what was happening my friend was sticking his M-60 in the turd. I backed away. The M-60s scared me. I had seen too many Looney Tunes and did not want to end up like Daffy Duck with his bill blown backwards.

My caution was one of my wiser moves. Perhaps the wick was short or the Gods have a sense of humor, but the explosion occurred seconds after my friend lit the wick. He was laughing too hard to back away properly and as the old saying goes, shit happened. It was everywhere. On the street, on the sidewalk, and especially all over my friend. His hair, his face, his shirt covered in brown. No firework before or since has impressed me as much.


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