"We're in North Carolina, celebrating Independence Day, Carolina Style. Whatever that means."
When I posted this as my Facebook status update, a friend of mine that is proudly from the South responded, "Possum. Lots and lots of Possum." She also mentioned moonshine.
Although I have yet to encounter possum or moonshine (we must not go to the right parties), we have learned one thing about A Carolina Style Fourth: The fireworks are plentiful, and hilarious.
One of my deepest regrets of this trip is that I did not accompany Paul and his brother when they crossed the border into South Carolina to visit the Phantom Fireworks Superstore. As you may or may not know, any firework is legal in the great state of South Carolina. Anything. Would you like Comentary Chaos, a 15-shot packet of madness? It can be yours for a mere $99.99. And, naturally, the second pack is FREE! There's also the Screamin' Meemie 130-shot pack. The package, decorated with the visage of an evil clown, is only $139.99. And again, the second package is FREE!
I asked Paul if this store, or "showroom," as it is called in the brochure, is a seasonal place, like the costume stores that come and go each Halloween. "Oh, no," he replied, "There's ALWAYS a market for fireworks." And indeed, it appears there is. Paul explained that the store had no baskets, only large, Costco-sized carts. Paul noted that all of his fellow customers were filling the carts to the brim, overloading them with their bounty of Yellow Jackets, Fortress of Fire packets, and Battle Of Yorktown Assortments.
Perhaps one of my favorite details of this trip is that the Phantom Fireworks Superstore is located next to Southern Spirits. Naturally. Paul explained that there was a large sign in front of the store advertising "Free Vodka." Now who doesn't enjoy a free vodka? However, reading the fine print, the vodka is only free if one buys a bottle and then sends in a mail-in-rebate. Who WOULDN'T enjoy explaining that tidbit to all the firework-toting-free-vodka-desiring customers? Talk about an explosive situation. (I know. My bad.)
The actual lighting of the fireworks was fun, in a terrifying sort of way. It doesn't matter how successful a man is, inside all men lurk pyromanical seventh graders. Paul and his brother would shoot off their bottle rockets, and with each scream, hiss, and pop, they would laugh and proclaim the awesomeness. After they were done, they immediately regretted not buying larger, more expensive, and most of all, just more fireworks.
When neighbors shot off their fireworks, it was not a celebration of our nation's independence, it was the merely the neighbors' way of saying, "You suck." A pyrotechnic pissing match, if you will. Paul and his brother seemed agitated that others had more or better fireworks, and were greatly concerned that they were not prepared enough.
Much like professional wrestling, Highland Games, and NASCAR, I cannot understand the allure of fireworks to my husband and his brother. It's loud, it's stupid, it's borderline dangerous, but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
I guess I like to think that I understand the male mind, and I can "hang" with the boys. But, on occasions like this, it once again becomes clear: Women are from Venus, Men are from the Phantom Fireworks Superstore.
(P.S.---As further evidence that my days are numbered, Joel took his first steps this morning.)