Long story short, I blew my face up once.
That doesn’t help. How about long story medium? As a young man of old enough to know better, the tiny town I lived in had two types of firecrackers: bang snaps and nothing. A dollar bought you enough twisted tissue munitions to kill a sunny summer hour or two, and that’s just what I was doing on this particular afternoon. Flicking bang snaps at the sidewalk, wild child that I was, and staring into the middle distance, bang, pause, bang. BANG. What was that? Sweet fancy, two went off at the same time and it was twice as loud! This was a huge discovery. I had to tell the world- to publish this. I should go get pen and paper, no, compose a song, wait, I should write it in bang snap marks right here on the sidewalk while it’s fresh in my mind. Two snaps twice as loud. Wait again, were three thrice as loud? Yes, they were. This progressed till I was devising methods to snap as many bangs in sync as was physically possible. Here is a paper towel and here is half a pack of them, pile snaps, twist towel, throw. Very Bang. Shotgun-esque bang. I decided then to make a bang snap so big that it would shake the very foundations of the earth and mock the gods themselves.
Cut to me in the back of our basement, unraveling the bang snap tissue and decanting their bangy stony centers into a cup. A white plastic University of Toledo Rockets cup with its orange lettering mostly scratched off. The cup sat on an unfolded red Sketchers size #9 shoebox on the leftmost side of dad’s old green workbench . There is a reason I remember this fine level of detail. Its called a flash bulb memory, and the name is appropriate for this story. I’m leaning over the cup and unraveling those paper tear drops dreaming of what this will mean to the world. I’m through a whole box. I’m halfway through the second box. Just two snaps left. Then I saw a light and felt a painful gritty sensation in my face region and choked on a whiff of smoke. Gray smokey hubris smoke. My experiment had blown up in my face, quite literally.
Unbeknownst to me, my older brother was elsewhere in the basement, maybe a whole seven feet away,with no idea I was back there trying to advance the science of bang snaps. He heard the curious noise of a curious deafening explosion. As he rushed into the room, his face went from zero to eureka in less than a second. Empty boxes, smoking cup, me. Black streaked face, hair exploded backward, bits of gritty stone stuck in my teeth. I coughed smoke. I couldn’t hear but oddly enough I could read his lips. Of my many talents at the time, lip-reading wasn’t one of them. Still, it was surprisingly easy to decipher. “Ha ha ha ha ha.” He pointed, crying with laughter and fell over.
BANG. What was that? Oh man, we’re in the present now ( I don’t know how the Doc handles it). We have neighbors who light off firecrackers every day. Little lady fingers mostly, but they do it for up to 3 hours at a stretch most days. Many times this is during The Child’s nap time. Sometimes into the wee hours of the night. If I walk next door and ask them to stop, they do, for a bit. The Spouse gets super annoyed by them, rightfully so, but I’ve been pretty relaxed about it.
I know how it will end. With them reading my lips.