June 25, 2007

Bottle Rockets are Dangerous

I am reminded of a tale from my past. I believe that it was the summer between my 8th grade and freshman year. My aunt had a high school reunion and was taking her son (my cousin) with her. The only problem was that the high school reunion was in a town called Lewiston in Idaho, land of the boring. To prevent my cousin (Devon) from going insane from boredom and talking to himself, I was asked/forced to go along. The 6 hour car drive consisted of A LOT of Harry Potter on tape and some napping.

I’d like to take this brief opportunity to warn anybody planning to drive across Oregon and into Idaho that the roads are long, flat, sunny, and dull. There is very little to look at.

We eventually got to Idaho and got all settled into our hotel. Did I mention that this was the Fourth of July weekend? That meant fireworks!

For all of you individuals that don’t live in Oregon, let me explain a little bit about Oregon Firework laws. It’s relatively simple: if it shoots into the air it’s illegal. The result is a hoard of Oregonians ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over ground-blooms and showers of sparks. Oh, and those little snake things, which are AWESOME! Oregonians don’t get roman candles, bottle rockets, or anything that goes up. It’s sad, I know, but we deal. Idaho is a completely different story; they embrace flying balls of sparkling goodness. If you want the best fireworks, we learned, you had to go to Indian reservations, so that’s what we did. We drove all over looking for Indians and eventually, sure enough, found some. They had fireworks! I’ll never forget the name of the firework stand either, it struck me as creative. Ill-Eagle was its name, and it had a picture of a very scary looking bald eagle with fireworks in its mouth. We went crazy and bought a ton of little bottle rockets and flying bee things (those things are SO dangerous) and shooting things and roman candles and just about everything under the sun.

Now, remember, Devon and I had never used a bottle rocket before, so we didn’t quite know what to do. We assumed that you put the bottle rocket in a, shocker, bottle. That would keep it up right and give it a place to shoot from. I urge you to take a look at the title of this entry really quick. Perhaps, if you’d like, you can modify it to “Bottle Rockets Shot from Bottles are Dangerous.” Here’s what happened:

We took all of our fireworks to a huge gravel pile (we’re talking 50 feet tall, 60 feet long and wide) and got ready to light a bunch off. We started with some fire crackers, which were exciting. We realized that they were great for blowing stuff up with. Then, we moved on to bottle rockets. We decided that if the rocket was in the bottle you’d be able hold the bottle and kind of aim it where you want it to go. We put the rocket in the bottle so it looked like this:

As you can see, there are several things wrong with this. The first is that the only thing keeping the rocket from falling into the bottle is the fuse. Guess what goes away when you light a bottle rocket . . . the fuse! The second thing wrong is the fact that the body of the bottle is much bigger than the neck, so when the rocket falls into the bottle it can fire but won’t necessarily leave the bottle. I think most people know what bottle rockets do eventually after firing (they explode).

Ignoring all of this, I held the bottle and lit the rocket. It took about 3 seconds before all of these rather dangerous realizations made themselves known to me and I entered “Oh My God, this is SO not safe!” mode. Not knowing what to do, I just dropped the bottle and ran.

Bad idea.

The bottle fell, and in a twist of fate comparable to the worst game of spin the bottle known to mind, managed to spin on the gravel until the neck of the bottle was aimed right at me. I had no idea, mind you, because I was running away as fast as I could. Devon was somewhere else just laughing hysterically, stupid Devon. Suddenly the fuse was gone and the bottle rocket fired. Luckily, it didn’t get stuck in the bottle. Unluckily, the bottle was still aimed right at me. The rocket shot from the bottle, skipped along the ground, and slammed right into my leg. Realizing that this was REALLY not a good thing, I started running to my left and the bottle rocket went to the right. When we were about 10 feet away from each other it exploded, graciously avoiding blowing my foot off.

Overall, a very enlightening/terrifying experience. I know now that you just shove the stick from the rocket into the ground and light it off that way. It’s much safer.

I hope you enjoyed laughing at my expense, I know I do.