Star spangled shredder

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Heaven knows I’m a patriotic person. I cry every single time I hear the National Anthem played or sung — it’s an instant tearjerker for me. I like celebrating the Fourth with fireworks and big bodacious booms just as much anyone else, but I’m here to tell ya’, I’ve had just about enough of the backyard displays this year. Mostly because I’m gravely injured, but also because our animals have decided they would completely freak the ever loving eff out with every bottle rocket set off in the neighborhood.

“I’ve come for your liver.”“I’ve come for your liver.”

When I was kid, we celebrated the Fourth on the Fourth. Didn’t matter if it was a Sunday or a Wednesday, if the 4th fell on that day, it was the day we were having fireworks and cookouts, and probably going fishin’ on the Ocmulgee River, because we hadn’t seen enough snakes for the year and had to make our family quota of incidents in which my dad either shot or hacked a snake to death with a machete right in front of us. Fun times. So anyway…

This business of starting the celebration on June 29 and carrying on for a whole dang week is ridiculous. Also, get off my lawn. I’m old and cranky. And now I have gashes in my knees, shins, thighs and ankles to support the general feeling of cranky I have about all this “making your neighbors’ animals have violent fits in the name of patriotism” mess.

I was home alone this holiday, because I don’t love the idea of riding around in a truck full of ordnance, and I’m even less enamored of watching my two favorite Georges light balls of certain death, especially when they have to occasionally put each other out because fire is raining from the entire sky around them. Not to mention the forty-leven tons of kaboom they’ve spent a week sinking into holes and racks, that just happen to be made of wood and are in the path of aforementioned raining fire those dummies run toward, instead of away from.

There’s just not enough beer available at Speedway to make that palatable to me, plus our dog Gambit can’t be left alone for any period of time anymore. I’ve officially been on nervous-Nellie dog-sitting duty.

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We lost Buck a few weeks ago — doggie cancer took him, so Gambit, our remaining ancient K-9, is having a little bit of a hard time adjusting. Buck was his life companion, and Gambit misses him. He’s not nearly as brave without Buck, so fireworks have really been hard on our old boy this year. I’ve been sticking close to home with him.

And now to the “injury” part.

We’re very lenient neighbors. I don’t really care what you do, or what you drive, or anything else about you, as long as you leave me and mine alone. And we promise to do the same. It’s totally none of my business what you do, until you make it my business by inciting my cat to violence, after 11 p.m., which is when decent people quit making a bunch of noise that might incite the neighbor’s cat to violence against them.

I knew it was going to be a bad night when the ruckus started at 3 p.m., complete with screaming kids jumping into the pool, which melted into a cacophony only a mother Cicada could love as soon as dusk came upon us. I knew it was time to gather the fragile animals by the time the first Black Cat went off. Unfortunately, I was holding kitty in my arms when the oh-so-Cicada-like neighbors chose to unknowingly render me chop suey.

Who knew perfect timing could be achieved between the random lighting of a fuse and scooping up of a nearly feral cat without previous planning? It was almost if they were trying to kill me. I reached down to get kitty in the house, the firecracker exploded, and I was rendered immediately lame, because kitty instantaneously removed my left meniscus, while gnawing on my right Achilles tendon, in an effort to take me down like a wildebeest. It happened so fast, I didn’t get a chance to bleed properly before the next barrage of assault began on my upper body and general person.

After entangling us both in the screen door, I managed to grab him long enough to extract one of his claws from my eyelid, but it was a futile effort, because my insanely hateful neighbor decided, at that moment, to set off a whole dang strip of Black Cats. Needless to say, it was horrific for myself and the cat, and the horrific was compounded by Gambit trying to crawl his 50-lb. self into my armpit, while the neighbors continued to gaily set off 64,000 Black Cat firecrackers, and I continued struggling to get an animal with razors for feet into the house.

I got everyone inside, gathered up my parts and pieces slashed off by maniac cat, and got some semblance of control of the situation. The dog and I spent the rest of the evening posted up on the bed, while the cat lurked below us, plotting to kill me, I’m sure.

Turns out, the Black Cats were just the opening act. As the evening got later, the neighbors worked their way up the illegal fireworks ladder to an atomic warhead. At about 12:30 this morning, as I was desperately trying to sleep with a 50-lb. dog crammed in my right nostril, my “lenient neighbor” streak was finally broken.

After the flash, sizzle and mushroom cloud settled, I threw open our bedroom window and screamed, “HEY Y’ALL, THERE’S A REASON I DIDN’T TAKE MY DOG TO THE FIREWORKS SHOW, AND IT AIN’T BECAUSE WE WANTED TO STAY HOME AND SEE YOURS. CUT IT OUT. NOW.”

I was going to expound further with something pithy about having the Chernobyl folks come clean their yard so my tomatoes don’t grow eyeballs, but as soon as the cat saw a way out, he sailed toward the opening like Luke Skywalker to the Death Star, pausing only the brief millisecond it took to engage his claws in a fleshy part of my scalp and give himself extra velocity as he sprang forth to remove livers at the neighbor’s house.

I’m not sure if our cat destroyed all life at the neighbor’s pool, or they ran out of nuclear codes, but it got real quiet, real quick. I was able to convince Gambit to leave my nostril and be happy with crawling up the back of my t-shirt, and we finally got some sleep.

Sometimes, celebrations are hard.