Driving Miss Hazardous Materials

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Well, it’s that time of year again, folks. Fireworks are being hauled around and set up all over hell and creation, and both my Georges are smack in the middle of it. Because, pyrotechnics is fun. I blame Chad Zechar. Also, I blame the fact that it’s incredibly cool to blow things up and get paid for it.

I’m not sure who to blame for making me believe I drove a bunch of professional-grade fireworks around in our pick-up truck, but maybe you can decide when I tell you the story.

“Things that aren’t welcome in the Kroger parking lot for a thousand, Alex.”“Things that aren’t welcome in the Kroger parking lot for a thousand, Alex.”

For reasons I’ll leave unspoken, I was mad as hell at George Parker, and he knew it because I did my thing where I act like he no longer exists. All I’m going to say about this tactic is, we’ve been married 22 years and pretty much anything ugly we can say to each other has been said. Probably more than once. Frankly, we don’t yell at each other much anymore, because we’re both too old and tired to say the same stupid things again. Hence the “you don’t exist in this world to me right now” persona.

It just so happens I was fully into ignore mode when he gave me the itinerary for the almighty fireworks undertaking, which I was pretty over anyway, along with being really certain that he didn’t exist in my world, when he opened the office door to interrupt my sulking with pertinent information about loading trucks with explosive ordinances and other things.

So, all I really heard was, “Blah blah blah, tuck, blah, follow me to Wilmington to load product, blah blah, pick the truck up at blah blah,” before I grunted a non-committal acknowledgment, and he left.

He got back hours later, and instead of being an adult and calling him to ask him to stop on the way home to get some things we needed, I insisted on being nine years old and waiting until he got home and in the shower to flounce off to Kroger by myself, in the pick-up truck.

I get to Kroger, which is about a mile and a half from the house, I’m feeling all cool about dashing out. I jump out of the pick-up and almost skip around the back, and freeze like I’ve been tazed when I see the boxes in the bed of the pick-up truck. Vague snippets of a conversation with someone I was trying to pretend didn’t exist in my world came back to me, “Wilmington to load product, pickup truck….”

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Holy Jesus.

I was sitting in the Kroger parking lot with enough gol-dang ordinance to at least be branded a domestic terrorist, if not blow a mighty hole in the parking lot of the new Kroger.

After I gathered up the pieces of my heart, from when it exploded in fear, I didn’t so much “skip” as “slither” into the driver’s seat and fired that mother up, only to have instant images of a spark from anything that might spark in an old GMC pickup, lighting on one of those boxes, which immediately appeared to be the driest tinder from the crypt-keeper’s belly button in my rear view.

I cannot describe to you the 17 hours it took me to get that damn truck home. One mile into the journey, I had cataloged everything on or around my person that had plastic, nylon or rayon involved, and figured my chances of becoming a giant, melted ball of screams were pretty high if anything caught fire. I also fought with the intense desire to light a cigarette, which I can only explain as the antithesis of everything going on around me, and quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever considered doing.

Two blocks from home, the nice Beavercreek Police made an appearance, coming toward me at a stop sign. I aged 47 years while I frantically tried to decide what I’d tell the nice policemen if they happened to stop me and ask me what the yellow hell I was doing, driving around a residential neighborhood with eleventy tons of kaboom in the bed. I smiled, I think, and waved a little, while I waited for the SWAT team to drag me out of the truck. The person behind me tapped the horn, causing me to leap completely out of the window, and into the yard across the street, before I was able to get my cheerios in a sock and move on.

67 days and three strokes later, I pulled into the driveway. I had mentally gone over every single scenario possible to mankind, including a meteorite crashing into the truck, that might ignite the crumbling, crusty boxes of death I carried. I was exhausted.

George was sitting on the porch, smoking a cigarette.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going out? I would have unloaded the bed.”

“OhmygoshImsosorry. I had no idea the truck was loaded. Iamsosorry. Puthatcigaretteout!”

Being that this was distinctly different behavior than what he’d left earlier, he was immediately on guard.

“What’s the matter with you?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I just drove a loaded truck around Beavercreek with no hazmat endorsement of any kind. Probably broke 20 laws. I almost blew up the new Kroger. I think I chipped my tooth when the lady behind me blew her damn horn like a rutting moose. Honest to God, I don’t know how hazmat people do it.”

He was on guard, but extremely puzzled.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I took the truck to Kroger with the fireworks loaded in it!”

“Baby. The pick-up truck doesn’t have fireworks in it — it has tools and drinks and things we need to put stuff together. I can’t bring a truck loaded with fireworks into a residential neighborhood and leave it, and I damn sure wouldn’t park it in front of the house! I can’t believe you thought that!”

And he laughed and laughed, but you know what, I didn’t hear him because he doesn’t exist in my world today …