It was the fourth of July, and not much was happening until . . .
| It was our fourth of July backyard party, and twelve adults were sitting on the porch drinking bad beer and trying not to listen to my wife’s nasal-voiced Aunt Jenny prattling on about the Kansas City real-estate market in her beehive hairdo while the kids ran around the yard waving sparklers above their heads. There must have been twenty of them and they seemed to be having a grand old time. I’m not sure about the rest of us. My granddad was asleep in his rocker. I envied him.
It was a five in the afternoon on a scorching hot day and my brothers and I were whispering about how good an ice-cold Bud, or a Coors, or even the old faithful PBR would have gone down at this moment, but we were being forced to drink my grandfather’s homebrew which tasted like the insides of a long dead cow.
We three brothers were none too happy at this point, maybe especially because all three of us were being scowled at by our wives for an assortment of different reasons, one of which was because we were sitting just outside of the conversation and not paying much attention.
We did laugh briefly when our grandmother made a face and handed her googling grandbaby back to our sister exclaiming, “This delightful little darling needs immediate attention!” Later, my cousin’s boy came running onto the porch in tears with his underwear pulled up around his neck. That was pretty darn funny, but, of course, it wouldn’t have been right to laugh.
The day wore on with kid after kid coming up on the porch waving live sparklers around in our faces and asking when the fireworks were going to start and my oldest brother for some reason kept taking it upon himself to explain patiently each and every time, “It needs to get dark first!”
So, that’s how it went until Aunt Jenny’s hair caught on fire and somehow was unaware that her hair was on fire and continued droning away about real-estate while her beehive lit up like a Roman Candle! Uncle Martin saved the day when he threw his full cup of homebrew on her head. The rest of us could only watch in astonished silence as Aunt Jenny now sat there wide-eyed and sputtering and thoroughly dismayed at the fact that Uncle Martin had just thrown his beer on her head. We could only watch silently as the foamy white cow suds dripped down along her powdered face and off the faint whiskers on her chin. Nobody laughed. Not then. Not for six, maybe seven seconds until we noticed long wisps of black smoke rising up out of that silly woman’s now soggy, carrot-red, beehive hairdo.
And well, I don’t want to go into great detail about our reaction to that on account of Aunt Jenny and my wife being so darn tight, and I have no desire to spend our nation's birthday sleeping on the couch, but, as ashamed as I am for my brothers and my behavior at that point, I’ll say simply, we did manage to find some amusement in the end there.