This is a true story; names have been changed to protect the innocent. None of this is embellished. I promise.
The day was July 4th 2015 and it was pouring down rain on our little east Texas town. Two of my roommates (Alice and Tim) and I were planning on meeting another one of our Roommates (Petey) at an Indian Reservation for a pow-wow and fireworks display. He traveled there earlier in the day so that he wouldn’t miss any of the stereotypical Native American spectacle. So knowing that we’ve already missed the dances, and knowing that it’s pouring rain and the drive would take an hour, we decide to change our plans to something a little less wet, far, and racist.
Thus we set out for the Chilis Restaurant one town over (the hotbed of critical thinking in our tried times), and several portents of doom made themselves obvious along the route: The 3 legged dog, the dead cat, and the roadside fireworks trailer crawling with 3-toed, harelipped customers. Those omens should have warned us that we were in for more than a show that evening. Did we heed these warnings? No. Of course not. This is Texas, and you see all of those things every day here.
After eating my wet tacos and warm beer at the Chilis and chatting about the vague homo-eroticism on display on the televisions in the restaurant (both rodeos and UFC), we asked around about where we could go to see some fireworks. Turns out this town does their fireworks display in June, just like the good Americans that they are. So we headed back to where we came from. The small town of K.
K has a empty field about the size of 2 soccer pitches which they use for various civic events. There are a series of permanent tents and a line of cannons. A block of apartments behind and the highway just in view. Well tonight, this space was going to be used for the fireworks display. The fire department had set up across the road and people had pulled up in their pickup trucks, pickup trucks and windowless vans (this is Texas after all) to get themselves a good view of the show. We climbed out of Alice’s car and took a seat on the hood (because the ground was far too wet to sit) and began to wait for the show.
It wasn’t long before one of our neighboring cars whipped out a giant hard-plastic frisbee and began lobbing it past our heads. Almost night, a barely visible frisbee being hurled haphazardly past our face while people are, in general, just Texasing around all over the place. The mating calls of the wild Texan abounded and the smell of meats on a grill was everywhere. We didn’t return their calls in kind, nor did we partake in their beefs but we sat along side them and took in the downtime. Yeehaws and BBQ meats aside, it wasn’t too shameful or long of a wait. They fired the historic cannons to mark the beginning of the show.
Immediately, with the first shot, I was taken aback by the height of the fireworks. These puppies were going off 50 feet from the ground. Every single shot they fired had embers hitting the ground, many of them had to be landing on the fireworks set up below. Half lovely, half terrifying. The second thing that struck me was how often they shot the fireworks… well actually, the better way to say that is how infrequent they shot the fireworks. They probably had enough fireworks for a really nice 20 minute show… but this fucker ended up lasting 50 minutes.
Most egregious of all, just a few minutes into the show the wind stopped blowing and the smoke began to hang in the air. for nearly 50% of the 50 minute show, where the fireworks were going off only 50 feet from the ground… you just couldn’t see them. I was sitting about 200 feet from the launch side, the odd spark was landing at my feet, but they were still completely obscured by the sulfurous miasma hanging at the outskirts of the town of K. In fact the apartment block situated behind us had more frequent and more visible fireworks all night.
All in all, it was the funniest fireworks display I’ve ever seen. It was brilliant in its comedy of error. I whooped. I cheered. I stood up and screamed to the heavens about what a good time I was having because it was such an incredible place to be alive for that one hour. Perhaps it’s a bit of schadenfreude, but I know that some of the people around us were enjoying it just as much. I don’t mind the odd failure, so long as I enjoy witnessing the collapse.
We sang along with Alanis Morissette songs on the way back to our home.
[Disclaimer] Don’t take this as pure anti-Texan sentiment. There is some, but that’s just my natural negativity shining through the gunpowder that dusted the pitches.
[Texas Endorsement] Texas is a land of wonder and excitement and I’m more happy to be here every day. The weather is great and the people are excellent drivers. The diversity of food and the complete lack of any racial tension is simply beautiful. I once heard in a song that everyone in Texas is a millionaire, and there is nowhere that better represents that old adage than the town of K. I love Texas.