Joe called me up one July 4th, and told me to travel to Easy Street, where Ted Thompson*, brother of Tom Thompson* was going to “…set off some big ones.”
It took me considerable time finding the place, because “Easy Street” is apparently not an actual street, though it was clearly specified as such in Joe’s directions.
I introduced myself to Ted Thompson, and from what I was later told, though a convoluted chain of events which I do not fully understand, he was thoroughly convinced that I was an undercover cop, and was plotting my murder for most of the night.
Joe, Ken, and I spent the afternoon in the pool, flinging Joe’s teeming legions of cousins around in the pool, and into each other. When we got out the pool, the cousins kept on coming, and in greater numbers. Ken and I were immobilized, as we had children latched onto our backs, chests, legs, and arms. We tried to walk away, but were encumbered by the 300 lbs. of people we were wearing. Eventually, Ken and I mustered every ounce of strength into having a fist fight, using the horde of Joe’s leech-like cousins as a form of ablative body armor.
Once freed, Ken and I were surrounded, but we were able to hold our ground by throwing Joe’s cousins into Joe’s other cousins. By “throw,” I don’t mean “push,” “knock over,” or “shove,” I mean “lift over our heads, and in a shoulder-press like motion, launch into two other people like goddamn Lou Ferrigno,” as shown in Fig 1.
FIG 1: The Incredible Hulk finds a grizzly bear, and proceeds to completely ruin its shit.
This went on for about twenty minutes. There was simply no reason — including divine intervention — why anyone survived, let alone escaped uninjured. I later learned that this was a re-occurring theme at these parties. Eventually adults who the children feared and respected stepped in, and told them to leave us be. Ken and I were relieved. The powers that be then told Joe, Ken, and I to play with a near-infinite supply of fire and explosives for the amusement of the children, to tide them over until dark, and the real insanity began.
Joe made an immediate B-line for the Roman Candles, and gave me one, because no one ever gave me Roman Candle before. And that was pretty neat. When my dad would smuggle fireworks across state lines, he only bought ladyfingers and Moon Travelers, because that is where dFun/d$ is a maxima. I set off a Roman Candle, Joe sets off a Roman Candle. We both set off a Roman Candle.
See, the thing about explosives is that showmanship is a huge component — each feat must be more and more spectacular than the last. Thus, Ken had to dual-wield Roman Candles, while spinning them around. However, unbeknownst to all of us, Ken, through no fault of his own, had damned us all.
He didn’t pick up Roman Candles, he picked up Happy Bees, which look like Roman Candles in every shape, way, and form, except they have a different name and behave in no way like a Roman Candle would.
See, a Roman Candle is a stick, about 1 foot long that when lit, periodically shoots 1 cm fireballs of various colors. But these weren’t Roman Candles, these were Happy Bees.
Happy Bees are like Roman Candles, but they shoot their fireballs in random directions, with a distinctive “Vvvvwwwooo! Vvvvwwwooo! Vvvvwwwooo!” noise. It would’ve been great if we knew that. Live and learn.
So, we light the Happy Bees in Ken’s hands, and run back.
Multicolored sparking death spews forth towards all of the defenseless women and children, who threw themselves to the ground and hid under blankets. Ken went into shock and screamed maniacally. Eventually he gained enough composure to turn away from the general direction of the innocents, towards the safer path of directly at me and Joe.
This story takes place shortly after The Matrix was released to DVD, so the bullet-dodging scene was a popular meme at the time, which everyone mimed for comedic effect, and in our case, as a survival mechanism. That shit is real, I know.
After this, it became sufficiently dark to set off the real fireworks, and all the males spent the next two to three hours setting off approximately $1,800 worth of Wile E. Coyote rockets and amusement park grade mortars.
The rest of the night passed without incident, and we all left happy, and with a healthy fear of Happy Bees.
* Names have been changed to protect the guilty.