Friday, July 04, 2014

My 4th of July Memory ...

My grandfather was  a piece of shit.   He didn't work unless it suited him ... cheated on my grandmother on a regular basis ... hell, he was in the process of leaving her for another woman when he had his last heart attack and died.  Make of that what you will.  

My grandfather was a special kind of awful.  He kept a scale in the kitchen.  If he felt you were too heavy, you would be asked to step on the scale.   He would then comment on how much you've gained ... or, if you hadn't gained, how the clothes you were wearing were unflattering.  It was a lose/lose situation, no doubt about it.

Now ... I bet you think this is a post about how a waste of carbon twisted my poor child's psyche into the damaged woman I am today.

Wrong.  I told you that story ... to tell you this story ...

One of the nicest memories I have from my childhood ... and I don't have a lot ... I suspect brain trauma at some point ... involves my grandfather.

My grandparents lived in a small town in a large farmhouse ... right on the "hard road."  Across that road, there was a business that sold fireworks around the 4th of July.  This is way back in the day ... back when stands sold everything from sparklers to raw nitroglycerin.

Every year, my grandfather would walk across the road with me and let me pick out a bag full of fireworks.   I had fountains ... roman candles ... bottle rockets with tiny parachutes that you ran to catch.   He would always tell me, "Now this is it ... this is all the fireworks we're buying." 

He was a cheap bastard ... and I had no reason to doubt him.

But most years ... late on the 4th ... he'd wander back across the hard road by himself and come back with two or three paper grocery bags CHOCK FULL of fireworks.  

Now that I'm adult, I can tell you two things about this ...

A)  He was friends with the old dude that ran the stand.  By eight or nine o'clock on the 4th, my grandfather probably got a hefty discount buying whatever was left over on the last night they were open.  As a child, I didn't realize that ... all I knew was that after all the other fireworks were gone, he would show up carrying bags of fireworks ... like a savior ... like some kind of demolition-expert Jesus.

B)  My grandfather was an alcoholic.  I don't mean finishing a twelve back of Budweiser on a good night.  I mean high ball glasses full of straight whiskey.  When he died, my grandmother snuck dozens (dozens) of empty hard liquor bottles into the trash ... bottles hidden inside other garbage ... so the trash man wouldn't see them.  As if everyone in that town didn't know what a souse he was.  Anyhow ... the point is ... by eight or nine o'clock on the 4th of July, he was probably so drunk that he didn't remember buying the extra fireworks.   Again, as a child all I knew was that he was carrying bags of fireworks ... and that his breath smelled funny.

Now ... mixing those two stories together ... the moral of this story is that fireworks can leave a good memory ... even when it involves a worthless piece of shit like my grandfather.

Fuck the law.  Drive over to Missouri and buy your kids some fireworks. 

And stay off the sauce ...

And I'd like to say, "I'm sorry"
But we lived to tell about it
And we lived to do a whole lot more
Crazy, stupid shit

Drive By Truckers - Let There Be Rock

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