Our city had their Fourth of July fireworks celebration last week, and we joined in by watching it from our front porch. I’m always down for a reason to porch sit and this was perfect. My folks, my brother and sister-in-law, and my neighbors Joe, Greg, and Linda were all coming over for it. My mom made brownies and veggie pizza, I made a fruit salad, Joe brought chips, Greg and Linda brought wine, and my bro brought fixin’s to make mint juleps. What more could you ask for to celebrate the fireworks?
The evening started out with a big surprise. Joe showed up on time to see the fireworks! He was even early. He’s never been on time to see the fireworks. He always shows up afterwards and says, “Did I miss it?” And of course, we razzed him all night about it.
For us, the fireworks are secondary. They are more like a pre-show to what comes next; the traffic jam. So while we waited for the main event, we all chatted, ate, and glanced at the fireworks every now and then. Joe had brought dill pickle flavored potato chips, which apparently were awful. Anybody who grabbed a handful gasped and almost gagged after eating them. Except for when Aya and I ate them. We didn’t get what everybody was all bent out of shape about. “What? You don’t like these?” They weren’t that bad. Okay okay, they were a little gross, but we still ate them anyway. We’re like the family dog, we eat whatever is leftover and what nobody else likes. At least we didn’t have to share with anyone.
All-in-all, the fireworks lasted about twenty minutes. They must have cut some trees down or launched from a different site because we had the perfect view from the porch. We usually have to contort our necks or walk halfway down the street to see them all. Although we didn’t pay full attention to them, it was nice to know we could if we chose. Once it was over, this gave us about ten minutes before the traffic jam started. It was just enough time for a quick break, to put a pot of coffee on, get the camera set up, and use the bathroom. And then we waited.
You could hear the sounds of a crowd out in the distance like an angry mob. It was getting closer and closer. And then you could see the sea of strollers, flip-flops, and glow sticks. It was showtime! Everyone was in a hurry to beat the traffic jam. Some people were surprisingly successful at escaping, but most others were not so lucky. They couldn’t see it coming, but we could.
Cars, cars, and more cars, from all directions. Fast at first and then they all eventually slowed down and came to a complete stop. It was gridlock. We all kind of looked at each other with excited mischievous grins on our faces. A mixture of car honks, booming bass, Lynyrd Sknyrd, firework sounds, and frustrated faces; this was our show.
POW! (Oh man!)
Pretty soon after the traffic jam started, we heard a car clip another mirror right in front of the house. It usually takes awhile before something like that happens, but not this year. It had barely been five minutes and things were already starting to get interesting. Both cars were full of teenage girls and every car around them seemed to have an opinion on what they should do. The creepy lady in the big van behind them kept yelling at them to move out of the way. But they had already pulled over to the side of the street. It’s just that her van was too big to get through.
One of the girls turned around and asked if we had duct tape. “I do!” I jumped at the chance to be involved in this scene first-hand. I would not only be a spectator this year, but an active participant. Greg and I went down and taped the young motorist’s mirror back on so they could get back home. My dad took photos to document the experience.
After that, one of the girl’s angry dad joined the scene. Uh oh, someone is in trouble. All the while this is going on, the lady in the van is about to explode. She had gotten out of her van a few times urging people to move, but it just wasn’t working. This whole scene on my street stayed at a complete standstill for at least a half hour. What a show.
Finally, little by little, the cars start moving slowly and after about an hour and a half, traffic thinned out and the streets were empty. The remnants that such an event ever took place were the cracked pieces of car plastic on the street, and the smell of sparklers in the air.
And can you believe it? The fireworks, the car alarms, the traffic jam, the music, and the shouting. Ellie slept through it all. Hopefully next year she’ll be able to join in the festivities.