Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth day of July: sun so hot, the clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky.

The Fourth day of July has new meaning now that my twin brother is in Iraq, putting up antennas for freedom. A lot of soldiers tell their families that they do not leave the base or go out on patrol. This is where I need to place Harold. He is on safe on base, sitting at a desk, staring at his golf clubs that rest restlessly against a wall in the corner of his makeshift office. He is dreaming about home while all the while doing the best damn job of putting up f-ing antennas to keep communication rolling on the base. The F-bomb in the previous sentence is for my twin. He is overly fond of the F-bomb. I f-ing salute you, Harold!

Harold loved fireworks growing up. Harold loved fire. If it was flammable, Harold was lighting it. One summer, Harold, Johnny Odom, and Chris Vogel had a genius idea to combine fire, tennis balls, and gasoline. Interesting mix for fourth graders. They’d dip the tennis balls in gasoline, light them, and then kick them. Their venue of choice, Dad’s garage, proved not to be the best location for such festivities. A fire ball soon got lodged under the lawn mower. Boom! Dad’s lawn mower blew up. A very small part of the garage was in flames and quickly extinquished. Harold wasn’t allowed near the gasoline for quite some time. Four years ago, when Mr. Husband and I ran into John Odom (no longer “Johnny”)—this was the experience he remembered: Harold and the flaming tennis balls. Harold was a forward thinker! Harold knew how to have fun. While not always safe, he was adventurous always. The Fourth of July always meant freedom and fire and fun.

So far, this year while in Iraq, Harold has recently been made promotable to Staff Sergeant and has been selected to go to the Audie Murphy Board to become part of the Audie Murphy Club. Big stuff. Lots of words. He is making great progress. I suspect he’s not sharing his recipe for tennis balls and gasoline. He is a soldier that we’re so proud of. All day yesterday, I thought of Harold as Mr. Husband and I enjoyed our random freedom. I don’t have any illusions—Harold is not fighting for freedom—but perhaps a little bit of what he’s doing as part of the larger machine is helping to ensure and protect freedom in the world. One small antenna for man, one giant antenna for mankind!
So Mr. Husband and I frolicked in the sun, we cooked side dishes for a cookout, we drank cold beer, and we lit fireworks to celebrate our freedom. There is nothing in the world that feels like freedom more than the right to blow off my own thumb with a black cat firecracker. Pop! Bang! You are free! You have no thumb!

Fortunately, my thumb did not get blown off, but I properly exercised my right to lose my thumb if I so choose and the firecracker is willing and big enough. This was the first Fourth of July where Mr. Husband and I played with fireworks. I was stunned to find out that my dear Mr. Husband, my careful, responsible, logical, cautious, never-speeds-like-ever husband had never lit a firecracker. Never. Not like once or twice, but never. How can this be? Is my husband a communist? Is he a pinko commie? Does he worship the state to the point of giving up all inalienable rights? My fears ran wild as I imagined what this new fact meant to me and to our marriage. Was the marriage over? Am I sleeping with a stranger? Oh, how my mind raced.

And then the simple conclusion blew up in my head like its own little firecracker: I must save him. I must lead my Mr. Husband to the loud fire-infested shores of bottle rockets, smoke bombs, roman candles, mighty pythons, sparklers, tanks, little hens that lay eggs of fire and pop, cobras, ground spinners, and—best of all—rockets with parachutes that fly high into the sky and come back down with kids hands-in-air chasing them. Mr. Husband was skeptical as most converts are when hearing the surprise knock on the door. I was alight. I was up in my pulpit, arms flailing, and words prophesizing about the glory to come. I was all fire and pop just at the thought of lighting the fuse and feeling the spark-spark-spark of little pieces of fire hitting my hand as I pull away quickly. It is a race to the side of the road. A race for life for fear of being the victim of a wayward rocket or not getting to the curb in time to turn around and see the magical wonder explode in the sky above. Soon, after rolling his eyes and seeing that I fully believed this was part of my wifely duty, Mr. Husband joined me willingly with a bit of little boy excitement.

I passed a lighter to him. We began the evening with a round of tank wars. His tank easily captured mine and won the battle. Victory! Mr. Husband is feeling it. We followed with a parachute man—Mr. Husband took off like a five-year-old, racing up the street to find his man. Soldier down! He rescued him with jubilant triumph. We joined forces with the family group across the street and lit a colorful mix of fiery wonder as the parents watched from my brother-in-law’s porch. We lit our small bag of fireworks with Mr. Husband genuinely enjoying himself. He was given a little bit of freedom last night as he learned that fireworks will not kill you, shoot your eye out, or blow off your thumb.

Next year: flaming tennis balls. Totally.

1 comment:

countrypeapie said...

Heather, you have shown him the light! He is a saved man. We bought a bunch of those wormy things that start out as tiny circles and then when you light them, then uncurl into long worms. They're weird.