Monday, July 04, 2011
The Right to Exercise Intelligence
It was 11:30 PM. I had just gone out the door with Theo on his leash. I could hear my neighbors across the way. I remember thinking that their laughter had that decided sound which you know is alcohol induced.
The next thing I remember was the loud BOOM! Then, a blaze of light in two distinct arcs which skirted my way from the next yard, one arc hitting the tops of the trees above our cars and the other arc flying under both cars and landing near the house.
I barely got out a gasp when a gaggle of three young adult women came running out of the yard and into the road. They were giggling like eighth graders who had been caught smoking in the girls' room.
Well, smoking and drinking.
One young woman fell on the street, spread eagle on her back, and yelled in a slurred voice, "Am I on fire?" which brought on paroxysms of laughter from the half dozen more men and women who came out of the yard and onto the street.
Without even thinking, I found myself yelling, "No, idiot (I may have used another word which is unsuitable for public consumption), but the trees and my car are. Get up! Get up! Get up and somebody get some water."
My next memory is something that looked like something out of a Marx Brother's movie. Suddenly, young men with buckets were throwing water on the trees and the pavement under and onto our cars. The owner of the house suddenly appeared with a garden hose, soaking down the grass, trees, both cars and the pavement.
The "woman of the house" came over to me - wreaking of beer and a little wobbly on her feet - and said, "It will be okay. They really are good, responsible kids."
I looked at her and said, "Too bad their parents aren't," and started to walk away from her and over to assess the damage.
Except for a few singed branches in the trees, and a swath of singed grass, all was well. The "man of the house" - also wreaking of beer and speaking in a voice just a tad above 'conversational level' - apologized profusely as we carefully checked both cars for evidence of any damage.
I looked at him and said - as calmly as I could and without raising my voice, "You were really, really lucky. No one got hurt, but if that rocket had gotten stuck under the low carriage of my VW Bug, there would have been an explosion. Look, there's the rocket there, next to my house. My whole house could have gone up in flames."
My words seemed to sober him up. He looked at me and said, "You're right. Oh. My. God. You are so right. I'm so sorry. So very sorry."
I'm sure he was - and, I'm sure he is feeling very sheepish this morning in addition to feeling his head pound with a hangover. Well, I can only hope. It's pretty quiet over there this morning.
Each year in the United States approximately 10,000 people are medically treated for fireworks-related injuries. More often than not it is the bystanders that sustain the injuries.
ALMOST HALF OF THE INJURIES OCCUR AMONG CHILDREN AGES 14 YEARS AND YOUNGER.
Males sustain about 72% of the injuries. Parts of the body most frequently injured are hands and fingers (26%), eyes (21%), and head and face (18%). More than half of the injuries involve burns (63%). Injuries are most commonly associated with fire-crackers (24%), sparklers (21%) and rockets (18%).
MANY PEOPLE THINK OF SPARKLERS AS HARMLESS FIREWORKS THAT ARE SAFE FOR CHILDREN TO USE. THEY ARE NOT!
Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees (hot enough to melt gold) and can easily catch fire to clothing or hair.
When fireworks are placed into the hands of people who have been drinking alcohol, well, suffice it to say that the danger of mishap increases exponentially.
This is a great country where we believe in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". You do not have to pass an IQ or sobriety test in order to exercise those "inalienable rights".
Watching fireworks can serve as a wonderful enhancer to the pursuit of the happiness of the celebration of our life and liberty in these United States.
If you know someone who will be using sparklers or fireworks tonight, please urge caution. Have a bucket of water readily available. It wouldn't hurt to have the garden hose connected and ready to rock 'n roll - just in case.
And, someone needs to be the 'designated sober person' who makes certain that no one gets hurt amidst the fun and frivolity.
Have a wonderful - and safe - Independence Day celebration everyone!
You have the absolute right to exercise your God-given intelligence.