Do any of you have childhood memories of things which were absolutely amazing at the time, but then you went and relived those moments as an adult, only to find they weren’t all that great in retrospect? I’ve had that happen many times. As a kid, I absolutely loved it when Mom would make hamburger helper. I begged my Mom to make me some again, and well, it’s not horrible but it’s nothing to write home about either. I also remember a time when my parents took me to this water park with a big water slide. I decided to revisit and as I made my down the blue pipe, it just wasn’t the same.
I wonder what changes in the adult brain? I’d love to feel that excited about anything again. When I was a kid, all you had to do was dangle a piece of watermelon Airheads taffy in front of me and I’d be ecstatic, grinning ear to ear. Now I have enough money to walk into the store and buy entire cart-fulls of candy, but all I’d end up doing is nibbling on a bit of it and say, “Meh.” Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I absolutely love chocolate. Milk chocolate. Dark chocolate. Doesn’t matter. I love chocolate. I actually like that more than I did as a child, and that’s saying something. I’d likely end up gorging until I got too sick to eat anymore. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes.
With the fourth of July around the corner, I found myself remembering all of the firework wars I used to get into with my brothers and cousins. They were so much fun. My father used to own and run a fireworks stand, so growing up I always had crates and crates of left-over fireworks to shoot off – a practically limitless supply. We would build sophisticated bottle rocket launchers, dress up in camouflage outfits, and fight one another like army soldiers down in the creek. It felt far more real than firing at each other with sticks or toy guns.
As the memories flashed, I remembered an old weapon I’d created as a teenager. We all dubbed it “the awesome possum”. It was the pride of our group, the culmination of years of research and hands-on experience. Consisting of a thick PVC pipe sealed off at one end, along with a big hole drilled in the side, you’d cram it full of bottle rockets then jam a sparkler into the hole, simultaneously lighting all the bottle rockets at once. Within about ten seconds, a barrage of hundreds of rockets would come screaming out of the pipe, exploding in every direction. It was the ultimate firework weapon.
We dubbed it “the possum” because just when you thought it was dead, unfired rockets would spontaneously light themselves, leading to a second wind. Armed with “the possum”, enemy combatants were scared to rush you.
I called up my buddy Greg and said, “It’s time to resurrect the possum.” Enthralled with the idea, he decided to join me and we went to Lowe’s and bought fresh PVC pipe, mesh shielding, and duct tape. I was ready to relive my childhood glory days.
We epically filmed every step of the assembly process and were planning to edit it all into an construction montage with the Rambo 2 preparations theme in the background.
First we scavenged the garage for tools. We grabbed a drill, wire snips for the mesh, and then a box of drill bits. On we went, drilling the hole in the pipe, next attaching a huge handle, and attaching the wire mesh to the back for air ventilation. Finally we added epic black stripe decorations using electrical tape.
It was magnificent. An epic masterpiece. This was far bigger and better than anything I had access to as a child. All that was left was the fireworks themselves. We went by a firework tent in town and bought whistler rockets and morning glory sparklers. I could barely contain myself. When we arrived back at his place, I tore into a box of whistler rockets, crammed seven or eight dozen rockets inside, and got out a morning glory sparkler. This was it.
I told Greg to get the camera rolling. Wearing a full Rambo’esque commando outfit, I was going to strike a pose like Slash in the Guns and Roses November Rain guitar solo scene. With the possum arc’d into the sky, I planned to close my eyes in triumph as a screaming barrage of rockets flew into the golden sunset, accompanied by hundreds of rocket explosions, one after another.
I pulled out the lighter and lit the first sparkler. Sparks and flames started spitting and sputtering from the little green and blue stick. Yeah baby, this was it! I crammed it into the hole and the rockets began to ignite and a few blazed into the sky! With my eyes closed, I stood there, waiting and waiting, but nothing else was happening. Something was wrong, very wrong.
First off, the sparkler had went out on me. What the heck was this? Was it not getting enough oxygen? And the whistler rockets were total wussy wimps. They could barely fly six feet out of the cannon before petering out with a mild plop on the ground. They couldn’t even hold themselves up in the sky. Their explosions were puny thuds in the nearby grass.
I waved to Greg “Cut, cut!” A total disgrace. What happened to my moment of glory? There’s no way I’d ever let anyone see that footage. It was simply embarrassing. I’m a prideful man.
Frustrated but still hopeful, I relit the sparkler. Ok, take two. I arc’d my back again and struck my pose. Here it was! I channeled my inner Slash and let November Rain play in my head as the camera rolled. As the guitar solo went forth in my mind, I slowly lowered the sparkler toward the hole, but the unthinkable happened; the sparkler went out before I could even get it in the hole. Oh my gosh, you’ve GOT to be kidding me! This can’t be happening!
I threw the stupid sparkler on the ground and angrily screamed out, “Get me another sparkler.” I was practically a spoiled diva. We got another sparkler and set up for another take. I lit it, got into my pose, and all that, yada yada. And guess what? The piece of garbage sparkler petered out within a few seconds, just like the last one. I mean c’mon, seriously, all I’m asking for is a child’s sparkler. Can’t I have that much? I’m trying to celebrate the birth of America, and here I am dealing with p.o.s. fireworks.
It turns out all the fireworks I’d purchased had been exposed to too much moisture. Hooray for small town firework tents. Either that, or fireworks these days have been made politically correct — watered down, dog and pet friendly, and completely sissified. I mean seriously. Then I heard Greg say the unthinkable, “Maybe your childhood memories are a bit … exaggerated.” I was filled with inner rage. “Nonsense! The possum was the most epic thing I’ve ever built. It won’t end like this. You’ll see! YOU ALL WILL SEE!”
It was getting late and all the firework tents and stands were closed, so we had to call it a night, but I assure all of you, this isn’t the end. The possum will rise again, rockets blazing into the sky like a fiery phoenix. You all mark my words! And when I complete my mission — and I will — I’m going to upload it here on this site for all you to see!