by Mike McHugh
As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it saddens me how young people today seem to have forgotten its significance. To this point, I cite a recent survey conducted by the world-renowned Cajun think tank, Boudreaux & Thibodeaux Research Associates, LLC. They asked over a thousand people under the age of thirty the question, “What famous document was signed on July 4?” The overwhelming response was, “LeBron James’ first contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.” Of course, we older folks know better, understanding that the history goes back much further, to when Mickey Mantle signed with the New York Yankees.
Still, despite the ignorance among many of the true meaning of Independence Day, it’s good to see how we Americans have at least one day a year when we can band together, set aside our differences, and celebrate the one thing that we all share in common. That would be the love of watching things blow up.
It goes without saying that fireworks are an integral part of our Independence Day celebration. It’s as much so in Yankee Land as it is here in the South, even though fireworks are illegal in most northern states. In fact, the North seems to be on a campaign to make just about everything illegal, including sweet tea and other sugary drinks. The only possible result of such a shortsighted move would be to have tank trucks full of Mountain Dew joining the convoy of Ford Explorers as Yankees head home from Tennessee with their bounties of fireworks.
Perhaps the biggest private fireworks event I ever witnessed occurred last year in Maryland, of all places. My wife and I went to an annual 4th of July party hosted by my old college fraternity brother, Jim.
One thing that always seemed odd to me about Jim’s back yard was that it has a tennis court. The closest we ever got in college to playing tennis was beer pong. Knowing Jim, I believed all along that he expanded the game to one involving kegs and basketballs. But on that day, I found out that its true function was to serve as a launching pad for a massive fireworks display, courtesy of a friend of his.
His buddy must have spent the whole week prior covering every square millimeter of the surface with all sorts of incendiary devices. John McEnroe never got such an ovation as this guy did when, as the sun descended, he waltzed onto the court in his Uncle Sam suit, torch lighter high in hand. The pyrotechnics that followed must have caused a blip on the Russians’ seismic detectors that North Korea could only dream of.
I expected that such a spectacle couldn’t help but draw the immediate attention of law enforcement. I braced myself for the appearance of helicopters and dogs with teeth like those seen only in a Jurassic Park movie. But it never happened. Apparently, the boys in blue up there like to watch things getting blown up as much as any good ol’ Southern redneck. I envisioned them leaning against their patrol cars, whooping it up along with the rest of us.
So happy 4th of July, everyone! Be sure to do something memorable to celebrate Mickey Mantle’s signing. Since I hate the New York Yankees, I’m planning to blow up a commode.