Childhood Memories

This warm weather is bringing back fond memories of summer.

When I was a kid, probably ten or eleven, every cent I had was almost immediately invested into fireworks. Samir, the neighbor kid, who was two years older than me and therefore qualified as "adult supervision," had a passion for explosives that probably rivaled my own. I don't quite recall how either of us got the money we had back then because neither of us had jobs, but somehow we always managed to scrounge enough together to ride our bikes to what was for the rest of the year nothing more than an empty dirt parking lot and purchase all the bottle rockets and black cats we could get our grubbly little hands on.

Big showy fireworks weren't our thing. Rarely did we set them off at night because, in spite of being allowed to travel great distances unsupervised on our ten-speeds, carry matches and lighters to our content and purchase enough fireworks to classify ourselves as pre-pubescent neighborhood arms dealers, we had to be in our houses by dark. We merely wanted something that exploded. We wanted stuff we could attach to GI Joe and see what happened. There were X-wings in need of battle scars. Giant styrofoam gliders were turned into experimental rocket-propelled aircraft. Lids flew off of trashcans. Gigantic booms emenated from down spouts and drain pipes up and down the block.

One day Samir got a call from an "anonymous" neighbor claiming he worked third shift and that if we continued to make so much noise with fireworks all day long, as he tried to sleep, he would call the cops. Everyone knew everyone on our block, and the only person working third shift lived directly across the street from Samir and was the father of four of the gooniest kids you'd ever meet. The oldest was named Ivo, which I only mention because to this day I've never met another human being named Ivo. And I've known two, count 'em, two Tibors. Anyway, we didn't want the police called on us, but we couldn't resist the siren call of so many fireworks sitting in our stash. Arriving at some sort of compromise, at least in our minds, we simply clipped the reports off the bottle rockets and proceeded to launch hundreds of them. Right onto Ivo's third-shift working dad's roof.

A few weeks after the Fourth of July our supply ran dry. The fireworks dealer had moved on. We toyed with lighter fluid, but it wasn't quite the same. We sat on Samir's porch lighting matches, hoping somehow an M-80 would magically appear, just waiting to be lit. The days were hot. And long. And we were bored.

Then we discovered the wonderous flamability of aerosol. And that's how Samir's mom woke up one morning to find a gigantic DAVE written into her lawn in burnt grass.

But that's another story.

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