Monday, July 05, 2010
How I Ruined the 4th of July
However, holiday weekends and their risks aside, I am an American, no matter how much I tried to tell people I was Canadian back in the early 80s when I was traveling (even going so far as to smoke Rothmans gods help us) and as an American it is my patriotic duty to drink beer and go see fireworks on the 4th of July. Besides, Annie, fired up by the small fireworks at Susan's party last Thursday, wanted to go see real fireworks. Not that the fireworks available at BJs or in all of North Carolina are unreal: they just don't go up in the air. No, they menace your ankles by emitting showers of sparks - all fireworks we can buy here say they emit showers of sparks or shoot flaming balls, a lovely double entendre that I for one would deeply enjoy seeing imagined pyrotechnically. Actually, in a beautiful failure of the Chinese packaging industry, one of the fireworks at Susan's party claimed that it would emit showers of gummy bears. Alas, it did not and so it came about that Annie wanted to go to the big fireworks display.
It is unfortunately rather difficult to take somebody with limited mobility to the downtown Asheville 4th of July celebration. Granted, it would be a hell of a lot easier if said person with the limited mobility admitted that she had it and sat down in a damn borrowed wheelchair which one could then trick up with a horn and some flags and stuff, but no, as far as she's concerned, she's the same as she ever was: it's just the rest of the world that has become inexplicably and rudely complex and fast. So this was a bit of a problem.
We started out the evening by going to a neighborhood block party which was lovely and turned out to be hosted by a Facebook friend of mine. That's always a shock - a facebook friend! Who exists! Who knew? At any rate, we walked on down there and back, slowly, a whole block and then recovered for a bit on Annie's porch while it got, again rather slowly, late enough to where we would not be sitting somewhere waiting for three hours for the fireworks to begin, a process to which I am allergic, particularly in a beer free environment. I had this theory that we could take my brother's car and go up to the top of the Biltmore Ave. parking deck, which is where I used to always go for fireworks because it is the best place. Unfortunately, over the years since I used to do this, other people have discovered that it is the best place and by 7:45, the deck was full. Damn them. I also, of course, used to start out at the New French bar and just dash up 3 flights of steps to the top when I heard the booming begin but, see limited mobility, above, that option didn't seem as if it would work.
My back up plan was to park, using Annie's handy handicap hang tag, in front of the art museum and walk slowly through the park. Well, the art museum was blocked off, all the handicapped spaces were gone too and the park was wall to wall people, so we nixed that. "What about the Wall Street deck?" I said, "I bet we can see both the downtown fireworks and the Biltmore estate ones from there!"
Famous last words. We got up to the top of the deck and parked and stood around for a bit. Then we decided to stand somewhere else and eventually, on a hunch, we moved the car to a different place on the roof. Other people began to appear. One by one they came over to me.
"Is this a good place to watch the fireworks?" they asked, humbly. "Where do they shoot off the fireworks?"
"Why yes," I said, enjoying my new role as fireworks ambassador for my city, "This will be great. You'll be able to see them from over there and there!"
And you would have, too, if somebody hadn't built the Public Interest Building in, like, 1920. Alas, it turns out that seeing the fireworks from the top of the Wall Street Parking deck is damn near impossible - you can only really do it, actually, from the place where we had first parked the car and even there it is less than optimal. Still, there were fireworks. I mean, sort of. You could kind of see parts of them here and there.
"I'm sorry," I said as we climbed back into the car, "That I ruined the 4th of July."
"This place is no good," said my aunt bitterly, referring to Asheville as a whole. "They don't have good fireworks."
"You know," said my brother thoughtfully, "People only started coming up there after we were there. They probably thought we knew what we were doing. So look at it this way - you didn't just ruin the 4th of July for us - you ruined it for all those people as well!"
"Okay, okay," I said, "I will start planning next year's celebration tomorrow. Honestly. It will be better, I swear."
And so it will, because I personally intend to be out of town and asking other people where they watch the fireworks from, I don't know, maybe Uttar Pradesh.