Life In The Big City

Having grown up just across the river from Washington, D.C., as the only child of a military bandsman yet, I am so jaded about national ceremony and public displays it is probably a Class 1 misdemeanor. I think there are people who actually get in their cars and drive to see the national fireworks. I have trouble motivating myself to walk up the hill, where there is a fairly good view from the nearest overpass.

Fate has decreed that men in my life always want to See The Fucking Fireworks. Sometimes I have flatly stated I will stay home, at least if they have a gang to go with; other times I try to be a good sport. I do like pretty sparkly things, but the presence of squealing kids and large numbers of strange people does nothing for me, especially since in July, D.C. is usually stifling even at nine at night, like trying to breathe through an old Ked.

This year the Cute Engineer had his usual invitation to go up to his employer’s high-rise offices near the riverfront and goggle from the sixteenth floor. I have been grouchy enough lately that I felt I had to.

I’ll admit the interlaced hearts were kind of nice.

Actually it all was very pretty, the other company groups were distributed civilly among various offices, and we hightailed out of the building before the underground parking level could turn into a killing bottle. The roads back toward my house were, of course, jampacked with people carrying lawn chairs and pushing strollers and crossing against the light and generally threatening to precipitate a pedestrian accident.

Halfway up the hill from Rosslyn, at the edge of the restaurant district, a young man on the street corner was haranguing someone out in traffic.

“Come right ahead!” he was yelling. “I’d love to take your fuckin husband or your fuckin boyfriend or whoever he is and [garbled, indistinct, but definitely unfriendly suggestion].” One young woman, then a second, emerged from the general hubbub, hauling him back away from the curb by arms and shoulders. Undeterred, he leaned against their pull, continuing to yell as an African-American sounding female accent blatted out of a car ahead and to our left: “Fuckin’ bitch, you bzzzyadammmwadawada…”

I had one hand on my cell phone and the other on my pepper spray. The Cute Engineer drives a convertible and we had to pass between them.

There is a reason I hate holidays.

Alcohol and explosives, the things that made America great.


11 thoughts on “Life In The Big City

  1. That is exactly why, when our kids were young we forsook patriotic and mass demonstrations. The kids were terrified by the behaviour of those around us. So we stayed home and watched on TV. Much safer, no beer smell nor marijuana or other substances wafting lazyly in the air.
    We still don’t go to those things, especially here in Québec since they have become occasions for demonstrations of all manners of activists trying to highjack the event for their own ends.

  2. I remember those days. We would often go to the Iwo Jima Memorial to watch the fireworks, other times we would just stay in our office building in Rosslyn. Food, coffee, a/c, no mosquitos — a much better idea.

    I don’t care much for crowds myself. This year I stayed home in Cape Coral and watched the fireworks from all directions being set off by my neighbors. It was enough entertainment for me.

  3. I feel the same. Fireworks in England used to only happen on Guy Fawkes night, 5th November (a national celebration in honour of the occasion that a Catholic terrorist gang tried, unsuccessfully, to blow up the Houses of Parliament – we’re a cheerful lot, us Brits) and every family would have a small ‘do’ in the back garden: a bonfire and a handful of fireworks. More than enough for kids.

    Then, the Health and Safety people started in on that little tradition, and now you can’t have a back garden bonfire or fireworks, no, you have to go with the herd to your local Fire Station Organised Bonfire and Fireworks. Which you pay for, of course. And where the carpark is invariably staffed by scouts and guides more interested in flirting than helping traffic flow…

    Oh, don’t even start me.

  4. I ended up watching the tail end of some fireworks when I was driving back so I stayed away from the crowds and luckily no one jumped in front of the car either. What I liked about Fourth of July is that I just love blowing things up, so I’d have my own fireworks display away from all the crowds.

  5. when I was a child we lived so far away from all cities that the idea of going to the public display was just not even an inkling. We had little money, so mostly what we had was fire crackers, not fire works. Usually there was one fountain, but not always. One year I remember when Daddy was flush and actually bought a pinwheel, which he nailed to the power pole too tightly so it didn’t spin. Very disappointing.

    It was a lot of fun watching Daddy put firecrackers under coffee cans and blowing them sky high.

    But no crowds. Now we go out to Toole’s place (in the country) and gather with our buds, have a potluck dinner and potluck fireworks which means there is LOTS of wonderful food and about an hours worth of fireworks to watch, which no one really had to spend more than $30 to accumulate. Then drive home through the darkling countryside. No crowds, just fun.

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