7/4/13

Happy Birthday, 'merica!

I know most of my readers live right here on the High Plains so this post may not be all that engaging but to those readers from "back home" who have never experienced a 4th of July in a place where fireworks beyond a sparkler or those snake thingies are legal . . . let me set the scene.

First - the entire state shuts down at 12:00 AM CT on July 4th. You can barely find a gas station (love you, QuikTrip) open much less a place to get your tires rotated, to buy some tulips for your special lady friend, or a coffee shop to duck in to. But you know what you can buy? Food, booze, and explosives. Yeah. 'merica!

So everyone gets up at whatever time and they putz around for, I don't know, an hour or two and by mid/late-morning at least 5% of Wichita is in their front lawn blowing crap up. Just setting fire to it. And this is a state where the average temp this time of year is in the 90s and it hasn't rained in days and days. But - hey - let's go celebrate our independence in a way that our forefathers certainly did not risk their literally "everything" for and do it in the middle of the street.

So around noon the boozin' starts (because, you know, before that is uncouth) and it gets crazy from there. Booze, BBQ, and a enlarged sense of pyro-adoration . . . give me the lighter fluid, cover your eye brows and toss me a match! The average Kansan will eat four pounds of food on July 4th (this is a made up number) and consume one gallon of alcohol (this is a slight inflation of what is probably the real statistic) and around mid-afternoon they look in the bed of their truck or in the trunk or atop the picnic table or in the compound and have a universal revelation . . . "We simply do NOT have enough fireworks for the evening." so they jump in the car and they head back out to one of the many, many tents that speckle the 3-1-6 (and will make odd arguments like "You HAVE to go to the place just over the Andover line because they have a 31 caliber mortar vs the 30 max they can sell here in Wichita" and you will agree because - hey - explosives are fun) and they will spend another small fortune to ensure a good 30 minute show as soon as that sun even flirts with the horizon that hangs infinitely in the distance.

Now. This is where it gets odd (I'm, oddly enough, FINE with everything earlier than this - despite my curmudgeonly tone and way, I really appreciate a day where we just hang out and enjoy each other). The sun starts to go down and Wichita becomes the town from The Lost Boys . . . just chaos everywhere. Imagine if every single house in the neighborhood mowed the lawn at the same exact time. And they blew the horns on their cars and flashed their lights on and off and they screamed. yelled, oohed, and aahed. Now take out the control elements and sub in devices designed to fill the sky but that go wrong. Regularly. Then magnify it by 1000 because that is how many houses are in your development (Rainbow's End) and the development next to you (Rainbow's Arc) and the one next to that (Rainbow's Other End) and the one beyond that (Pot of Gold) and the one near that (Ginger Dressed in Green with an Accent Court) and the one just past that (Bowl of Lucky Charms) and one more (Rainbow's End II).

Sure, sure, sure. It is fun. Unless you are a dog or other animal. Or if you don't like chaos on a mass scale. Or if you are trying to drive somewhere. Or if you are trying to walk somewhere. Or if you are a person that hates chaos trying to walk a dog. You get my point.

Now imagine that this goes on for hours and hours and hours (and not JUST on the 4th, by the way - for nights before and nights after, too) and imagine that there is a sense that it is NEVER going to end. But it eventually does and apparently once it does people are just exhausted because the debris from the festivities just sits in the middle of the street the next morning, sometimes still smoldering.

Here's the moral of this long, long diatribe. Have FUN. Be SAFE. Try to take a minute to remember why we actually mark this holiday. And PLEASE clean up after yourselves, y'animals!