Another Fourth Of July… Ruined

Happening now. (Stuart Palley / EPA)

Alright, so it’s still morning, therefore, it can’t be ruined yet. However, I know what’s in store and can safely say that it will be ruined.

For the past month or so, my neighbors have been shooting off illegal fireworks. They go off so often and so randomly that it’s gotten to be a joke around my house. “Happy Tuesday! Let’s celebrate with explosions! Wooo!”

How do I know the fireworks are illegal? All fireworks are illegal in California, and rightly so. We’re in the middle of a persistent drought that’s been going on for as long as I’ve lived here it seems. We have forest fires every year. This is the dry season. As I write this, there is a massive wildfire in Napa Valley.

Happening now. (Stuart Palley / EPA)
Happening now.
(Stuart Palley / EPA)

So, yeah, not optimal conditions for drunk amateurs to light things on fire and make them explode in the sky, landing hither and thither. Honestly, you might as well just walk across the street and set your neighbor’s house on fire. It would save a lot of guesswork.

Yet, yesterday, I saw a guy selling fireworks out of the trunk of his car. That really happens. I had no idea. I half expected him to open a trench coat and ask me if I wanted to buy a watch. What’s worse is that people were buying them.

My neighbors are mostly Mexican and for whatever reason, it seems that a lot of Mexicans in America love celebrating Independence Day with illegal fireworks. Actually, everything is celebrated with fireworks, which would be fine if it wasn’t for the drought and all the fire.

Last night, there were ghetto birds (police helicopters) overhead, circling with searchlights for offenders. Good, I thought. Get ’em! My normally peaceful neighborhood sounded and looked like a scene out of Black Hawk Down.

"Get to da choppa!" (Black Hawk Down, Sony Pictures, 2001)
“Get to da choppa!”
(Black Hawk Down, Sony Pictures, 2001)

In addition to the fire hazard and the jarring sounds, there are two more reasons that this Fourth will be ruined.

First, from where I sit, I can see my next door neighbor blowing up a giant inflatable swimming pool in his backyard. This can only mean one thing: noisy grandchildren splashing around all day. I’m not all that fond of children, but I am especially unfond of my neighbor’s grandchildren. The girl squeals like a pig. And not a joyful squeal, but like a pig that’s terrified. That’s her happy noise apparently.

The boy never, ever stops talking. Whenever he is around, there is the droning sound of child questions continually dribbling out of his mouth. Much like owners of small continually yappy dogs don’t even hear their dog’s constant annoyance after a while, the parents and grandparents have drowned out the sound of the boy child’s continual questions. I am not so lucky. I hear his insistent pleas to know why the sky is blue like nails on chalkboard. “Why’s the sky blue? Grandpa, why’s the sky blue? Mom, why’s the sky blue?” Repeat to infinity. Sometimes, I want to shout the answer out the window. The answer, of course, being, “ASK GOOGLE, YOU TWAT!”

The second reason I’m dreading the day to come is my dog. She is absolutely terrified of fireworks. No matter how many times I tell her it’s just noise, she never listens. My dog would not be a good battlefield dog like Sergeant Stubby.

Sgt. Stubby, veteran of World War I, mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division.  (wikipedia)
Sgt. Stubby, decorated veteran of World War I, mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division, Medal of Honor recipient.

My dog wouldn’t save anyone on a battlefield, not even me. Whenever there are fireworks, she cowers and tries to climb in my lap. For a few days after the Fourth, she refuses to go outside at night.

This year, I tried to be prepared and got her a Thundershirt that’s supposed to reduce dog anxiety. I put it on her yesterday, and she refused to move. It actually increased her anxiety. My dog doesn’t like anything on her except her collar. She just freezes. If she ever gets loose, all I have to do is throw something over her and she’ll stop dead in her tracks. Yet another reason why Ford Prefect’s advice to always carry a towel in the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is sound.

I hadn’t considered the freeze factor when I bought the Thundershirt. Well, crap. Plan B is Xanax. I have a dosage all ready to go for when the whiz-bangs start. Having a dog with extreme fireworks anxiety isn’t really conducive to a social life on the Fourth of July. Even if I were the type of person to leave a terrified dog home alone in a fake war zone, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself, because I’d be worried about her. So, instead of going to watch fireworks somewhere with friends, I’ll be sitting home with my windows shut and a 70 pound shivering dog in my lap, because that’s how we roll.

Happy Independence Day, Americans. Non-Americans, go about your business and thanks for playing along.

Post title stolen from the song by Big Business.