I haven’t bought fireworks since I was a kid. Come to think of it, maybe I never bought fireworks, prior to this past weekend; my dad usually had a little stash of them hidden away that he’d pull out for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, stuff that he’d had sitting in a drawer since his bachelor days in an apartment on Miami Beach. Anyway, this past Sunday, my three boys and I drove past a fireworks stand, and I decided to buy them some sparklers. Something non-intimidating and relatively safe to start them off with, since my oldest is only seven and my youngest is four.
The folks manning the stand couldn’t have been friendlier. I asked a sales lady where the sparklers were, and she pointed out an entire assortment of the things. The last time I handled a sparkler, maybe thirty-five years ago, there’d only been one type, so far as I knew — the metal stick kind that stayed good and hot after it burned out, unless you stuck it in water. I asked the sales lady what she would recommend for my little guys, given that none of them had ever handled (or even seen) a sparkler before. She pointed me to much larger, longer wooden sticks wound around with pink and green and orange crepe paper; she said the wooden holding sticks didn’t get hot like traditional sparkers’ sticks do, and rather than shooting sparks out at all angles, which could be frightening for a small child, these behaved more like a torch, shooting a colored fire forward. They came bundled in packs of five. I bought four packs of the new-fangled kind and two boxes of the old-fashioned kind, figuring I’d let the boys use the big ones, while I’d demonstrate the traditional ones myself.
Dara wisely insisted that I also demonstrate the long kind before handing any to the kids. Good thing I did. That little incendiary device could’ve burned Japanese infantry out of caves on Iwo Jima.
The boys were very impressed.
They didn’t get to hold any sparklers this Fourth of July. Maybe next year.