The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Monday, July 05, 2004

The 4th... circle of hell

My fourth of July didn't actually turn out to be as bad as the title makes it sound, but for a few hours there it was pretty close.

Every year my mom's side of the family goes to this creek near Middle of Nowere, MO and we swim, and we lounge, and we grill, and we blow up things. It's always a blast, and pretty much the highlight of the year, complete with traditional sparkler dance. Well, as you may recall, my beloved grandfather, master of ceremonies for *every* holiday, passed away about a month ago. Everyone is still grieving, so that's bad enough, but then through a dysfunctional series of acquiesence and miscommunication, someone decided that we weren't going to go to the creek, the official reason being "because it might rain"... even though all people under 30 knew it wouldn't.

When I heard of the decision, I curled up in a chair for an hour, Seth (my brother) started crying, and my mother said she wished she was dead. My father's solution to all of this was to ignore my mother, yell at Seth and I, and set off on a crusade to do any and all work that had ever needed to be done on the yard and house. Unable to take the misery anymore, and realizing that if I stayed I would just be yelled at by my father the rest of the day, I took Seth and set off for our cousin's house, where my grandmother and Aunt were lounging listlessly in the living room. I gratefully collapsed on the couch near my grandmother and we all stared off into space together. The elders of the family had sucessfully roasted the 4th of July with its own burgers and buried it with a miniature American flag through it's heart. My cousin Ben got the right (cowardly) idea and abandoned the family to hang out with one of his rich friends at his lake house. My newly married cousin also defected to his wife's family celebration, leaving the rest of us to marinate in our misery.

The alternate plan to going to the creek (as devised by the murderous elders) was to go to my Aunt Mary's house for grilling and eventually blowing things up. I was entirely lethargic for the entire day until night fell and the big guns were brought out. My other newly married cousin and his wife and daughter were there, along with his fried Dustin were there, and that added a splash of fun. We all went down a few blocks to where there was an unfinished new street projecting into a field, and used that as a launch pad. The elderly (over 40) set up lawn chairs on the prependicular street behind us and watched the fanfare. We all lit several fireworks, I created my famous Super Snapper (unwrapping the pebbles of explosives from an entire box of those little snapper popper things and CAREFULLY dumping them into one of those tissue paper parachutes, then CAREFULLY twisting the top closed and placing it into a doomed cardboard object... in this case, one of those little tank fireworks)and coordinated the sparkler dance. We played the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and the Once Upon A Time in Mexico soundtrack out of the back of one of the vans and danced to them. We were swing dancing to mariachi music. We were outside Spfld city limits, but we were surrounded by neighborhoods, and there was a 360 degree panarama of fireworks all around us from various backyards.

When we were all out of low-grade explosives, the under-30 group unanimously decided that we needed to go jump in a pool with all of our clothes on. We eventually procured liscence to use an apartment complex pool, and ghetto blasted hip hop out of my car all the way across town, the other girls dancing. At one point we stopped at married cousin's house so they could change (they are no longer teenagers, therefore must not swim fully clothed.. i.e. wusses) and I was playing some Outkast out of my car while the other girls danced in my headlights. I didn't think it was very loud, if you weren't sitting in the car, but some guy across the street came over and complained that he was trying to sleep and it was too loud... even though it was only 10:30 at night and all the lights were on inside his house.

When we finally made it to the pool, I cannonballed my way in wearing my cargo shorts and vintage (1998) Old Navy Flag Tee. When I pulled myself out, all of my clothes were plastered to my body and my cargo pockets were full of water. I had fun demostrating my water-carrying capabilities to all, and getting into splash fights with Dustin.

I vaguely waterproofed the car seats with windbreakers and plastic clothes covers and the girls piled into the old Corolla. I hauled them back to their house, where I changed into some drier clothes and we all ate microwaved s'mores. On the way home Seth and I drove through Taco Bell then snuck downstairs to watch Adult Swim.

So it wasn't that bad afterall.

Still, nothing can compare the removed and free atmosphere of the creek.

But then, nothing can compare to holidays with my grandfather, either.

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