Monday, July 6, 2009

The great fireworks gobsmacking

I've always been ambivalent about Fourth of July fireworks. I feel about them the same way I feel about going to concerts, meaning I mostly enjoy them, but never quite enough to stop anticipating the moment they end and I can get on with the business of living quietly. I don't like noise. I don't like crowds. Plus, I live in a city where the fog mostly just obscures the fireworks so they look like a distant strobe pulsating behind the clouds.
Oh, and I grew up with a phonophobic mother, so firework displays weren't exactly a priority in our house.
In fact, the only one I remember as a kid was in Vermont. I was with my dad, step-mother and new baby sister. We were out in a field with a bunch of other people toting blankets and coolers (only we probably didn't have a cooler—we weren't the types to make special snacking arrangements). What I remember most is standing at the crest of a grassy hill, holding my baby sister in my arms and sobbing because I couldn't cover my ears while my dad and step-mother laughed at me.
But Bethany Beach takes their fireworks display very seriously and there is no greater parenting pleasure than introducing your kids to something you think they might find delightful (I can't wait for movies, Yosemite, and Disneyland). So on Saturday night we trekked the block and half to the beach and sat in the sand with the American hordes and watched fireworks. It was pretty impressive, actually.
The kids were, I think, ambivalent. Startled, awed, and a little annoyed. They covered their ears and sometimes hid their eyes, but part of them liked it. Mostly, they enjoyed talking about them once they were over.

Oliver practiced oohing and ahing beforehand and he performed admirably

Maggie figured out that if I held her ears, she was free to suck her thumb

A thing I like
The word "gobsmacked." It's come up a lot in the last couple of days and it's just so darn onomatopoetic: first the jaw drops—gaw—then the palm slaps the forehead—smack.
Maureen Dowd uses it here, in her skewering of everybody's favorite cuckoo bird, Sarah Palin. And Mighty Girl uses it here to describe her face while she tap dances (you gotta see this cuteness).

1 comment:

Petunia Face said...

I am the exact same way with fireworks, and I knew I was finally an adult when I could admit to myself that I don't like concerts.

The only fireworks I remember as a kid was when my brother was in the hospital with his asthma and for some reason my mom asked these two neighborhood young women to take me to the fireworks. They drank beer the whole night and made out with some guys in a Trans-Am.

Fireworks scare me but they are beautiful. Wish I could say the same for Trans-Ams.

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