Word from the western front arrived early. It was going to be a “heat advisory” kind of a day. We hunkered in our bunkers and prepared for the worst. I put on a pair of clean tighty whities. Because:
To brine thine own self be true.
–Tom B. Taker
I was already looking forward to the salt water sores in my private areas. You know what they say. “Fight ’em over there or in your underwear.” Like always I choose the latter.
Sunday night the neighbor set up a table saw in his front yard. He ran that sucker until 11:36 pm. On a work night. I kid you not. I believe this is the exact storyline of the movie Saw.
Even more table saw. It was all squee … squee … squee … when the hours were wee.
What every happened to politeness? Basic manners? Please and thank you? All as dead as my peace of mind and peace and quiet.
Two nights of noise in a row. The urge to fling poo was becoming unbearable. Somehow, though, I was able to hold on.
But, little did I know it at the time, those two nights were merely flanking feints. The best was still yet to come.
Day 3 – Present Day
It was the day they issued an official heat advisory. Since we had wisely moved into a Portland home with no air conditioning, this meant two things. First, all of our windows were wide open. Second, we could hear our neighbor’s farts from within their own homes.
Thanks to the layout of our neighborhood, there are about 25 residential units within 100 feet of us. Portland likes residential infill. The population may be booming but the city limits decidedly are not. That means we all gotta snuggle.
At any moment in time, any one of these lots will be blasting a stereo, yelling at each other and/or their dogs, running a lawn mower, gasoline-powered weed trimmer, various other power tools, playing with car alarms or just randomly beating on crap in their backyard that makes lots of noise. The exact odds of noise every second of the day is exactly 100 percent.
The closest lots border with 20 feet of where we lay our heads down to sleep. The conversations of our neighbors often sound like they are inside our home.
Last night there arose a clatter. The neighbors were having a shindig. I peeked over the fence to see what was up. They were all decked out in officially-licensed Duck Dynasty gear, holding cans of beer in one hand and cigarettes in the other. I can often smell their secondhand smoke inside my own home. They happen to live upwind.
What was the occasion? Fourth of July Eve Eve Eve. Apparently that’s a thing now.
We knew this was coming. We knew that summer was coming. We knew we’d have our windows open all day and all night. We knew we didn’t have air conditioning. We knew that most of our neighbors like to party at the drop of a hat. They party on the weekend. They party if it’s a work night. They party when the weather is nice. They party in chilly rain. (True story.) They party in the ice and snow. They party early and they party late, sometimes until 4am.
And through it all, we remain a fixture, experiencing every scintillating moment via our auditory canals. This isn’t our first time to this particular ball, and our date happens to be a boorish oaf.
But last night they upped their game.
We were watching TV and our cats were sprawled about as they are wont to do with their rough life of leisure. Suddenly, a shot rang out…
In an instant the cats were gone leaving behind little cartoonish clouds reminiscent of the Tasmanian Devil getting in a fight. My wife and I were so startled we almost peed.
What the hell was that?
My guess? I’m not a consumer of fireworks but perhaps an M-80?
M-80s are a class of large firecrackers, sometimes called salutes. The Simulator, Artillery, M80 was originally made in the early 20th century by the U.S. military to simulate explosives or artillery fire; later, M-80s were manufactured as fireworks. Traditionally, M-80s were made from a small cardboard tube, often red, approximately 1-1/2 inches (3.8 cm) long and 9/16 inch (1.4 cm) inside diameter, with a fuse or wick coming out of the side; this type fuse is commonly known as cannon fuse or Visco fuse, after a company responsible for standardizing the product. The tubes often hold approximately 2-1/2 to 3 grams of pyrotechnic flash powder; one source states that an M-80 has at least 3 grams of powder. Some contain up to 5 grams or more.
Source: Wikipedia – M-80 (explosive)
The only reason I’m familiar with M-80s (aka seal bombs) is because of my dad, who was no slouch in the asshole department himself. He always kept some on his boat. When out in the ocean he’d pull over to a barren island and say, “Watch this.” He’d throw one of those suckers and when it went off suddenly a bunch of animals who had been well-hidden would be startled and run for their lives. Dad thought that was hilarious.
I can’t say exactly what it was we heard, but it sure as shit was no ordinary firecracker. It may have been an M-80 or something like it. This was followed by a few colorful exploding fireworks bursts directly over our house. Sitting in my living room chair I watched something land in my front yard that acted a lot like a smoke grenade.
If you haven’t experienced drunken idiots shooting bombs at your house in the name of national pride I highly recommend it.
The next question became: That can’t be legal. Where did they get this shit?
It turns out that in the City of Portland any fireworks that can travel more than six feet or over 12 inches in the air are prohibited. They are illegal. So are “small or regular firecrackers.” There’s a fine of up to $1,000 per violation. During “Fireworks Season 2013” the City of Portland says there were a total of 35 fires caused by fireworks. So you don’t have to be a grumpy old nutjob to be concerned. This should be important to everyone.
It turns out Oregon prohibits the sale of most fireworks except a small set of piddly things available at the
asshole fireworks stand just down the street. The freaks in hedonistic Washington state, however, are more than happy to provide the big shit. It’s just a quick trip across the mighty Columbia to load up on prohibited fireworks and bring them back to Oregon to become a legitimate criminal.
On top of everything else, the fireworks caused a fracas between me and the wife. She wanted to call out the cops. I said, “Let’s think about this. If we end up living next to convicted felon types who want to kill us, we just might have to move.”
The M-80s continued until after 10:00 pm. Finally, there seemed to be interval that indicated that maybe, just maybe, they decided to observe some minimal amount of decorum and take pity on their neighbors.
We went to bed angry with each other and our cats hiding in fear.
It was around 10:45 pm when I had just drifted off to sleep.
Gotcha suckers. You didn’t try to sleep, did ya? Ha ha ha ha ha! Burp.
That was it for me. I was wide awake. Any wider and I would have gone Möbius with my innards. It was another 90 minutes before I was finally ready to give sleep another try, the entire time sweatin’ like a pig. It was a fun night.
Luckily for you it gave me some time to drivel this crap.
All I ask is that you stop and think of me as you participate in your national pride rituals. Last year fireworks seemed to last about five weeks. It may be difficult to take any pride in that.