Lying on my back, looking up at the sky and being dazzled by starbursts of color — no, I’m not remembering what it was like as a kid and oohing and aahing over the Fourth of July fireworks show.
I’m trying to recall what happened a couple of winters ago when I slipped on a patch of ice and wound up doing a reverse dive, with a half somersault in the pike position. (I have no idea what kind of dive I did. I’m just going on what a witness told the EMTs.)
Surprisingly, for someone who liked loud noises and bright colors — especially those of the different flavors of colored ice on a stick — I was never a really big fan of fireworks shows.
As far as loud noises go, the first one we discovered was something that was a prize at corner candy stores.
I’m not talking about Cracker Jack that used to give you a little prize in the bottom of the box of caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts. It isn’t even the prize of a little plastic whistle that you annoy grownups with.
The noise-maker I’m talking about did not come in the bottom of a box or bag of candy; it was the little brown paper bag that the patient corner store owner would put in candy that we asked for ... “Give me one of those and give me one of those,” one penny at a time.
The noisy discovery would rank right up there with the discovery of fire. Someone finished his candy and then blew into its bag until it was filled with candy-scented air, closed the top and then popped the bag against the palm of his left hand with a loud “Bang!”
My friend “Schlimpy” found out the hard way that the loud bang of a popped paper bag is not always appreciated.
Once he sneaked into his kitchen as his mom was about to serve up a platter of spaghetti and meatballs and popped the bag right behind her.
Poor Schlimpy wound up spending the next week confined to the quiet of his bedroom. Some of the spaghetti and one meatball spent the next month stuck by spaghetti sauce to the ceiling of the kitchen.
We learned that, as a rule, it was usually better to make most of the loud noises outdoors — unless you prefer to sit in your room without the benefit of TV or radio.
Our go-to noise makers were cap guns. The nearby candy stores stocked the caps that sounded like a gunshot and let off a bit of smoke when a small percussion cap was exploded.
We preferred the orange rolls of 50 caps. They fit in most brand toy guns and rifles, made a small but satisfying pop and gave us a break from yelling “Bang! Bang!” when we waged play battles or staged play shootouts.
Actually, I think the neighbors preferred us to use the caps in our gunfights. It was a lot less noisy and aggravating than having a bunch of kids running around yelling “Bang! Bang!” all day.
As if the caps weren’t enough noise, the novelty store a few blocks away used to sell box of “poppers,” “bang snaps” or whatever the heck we called them. They were a tiny bit of sand or stone with an even tinier bit of small explosive wrapped in cigarette paper. They popped when you threw them onto the sidewalk.
Maybe it was all that day-to-day banging that made Fourth of July fireworks less appealing. I think that’s because it is more fun to make your own noise.
I had a bad sinus infection the last time I witnessed a fireworks show about 20 years ago. When I tilted my head back, I lost my balance, got dizzy and fell over. It reminded me of landing on my head on a patch of ice.