MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Americans celebrate the Fourth of July in many ways, whether it's getting together for a picnic, heading out to the lake or neighborhood pool, or meeting up for an ice cream social.
But for commentator Laura Lorson, there's one popular independent state tradition that is definitely not on the agenda.
LAURA LORSON: Look, I'm as patriotic as the next guy. On the Fourth of July, I want to parade around and denounce the king, toss a box of tea into the river. I just never translated this feeling into a desire to blow stuff up.
When I was a kid, fireworks were mostly verboten in our household because my dad was convinced that we, his children, would do something stupid. My extended family had a history of, shall we say, traumatic ends.
This is why while other kids were gleefully setting off Roman candles and bottle rockets and black cats or whatever, my sisters and I were glumly playing with those snake things that don't really do much of anything except generate an impossible amount of ash out of a little, flat, sooty tablet.
My father would stand on the porch with a fire extinguisher, just in case that was too much for us to handle. We were also allowed to have those paper snapper dealies that look like tadpoles, that you throw on the ground and they make a wussy little pop.
All of this is by way of saying I'm completely hopeless around fireworks that you set off yourself, as I have no experience with them - except for the snake things, which I don't think count.
So when my husband and I moved out to what you would call a quasi-rural area, I got quite the rude awakening about the relative amount of danger that other people are willing to put themselves in, in the name of celebrating our nation's independence from the tyranny of the British monarchy.
Now, despite the fact that we don't set off fireworks, our entire Fourth of July is spent trying to keep our dogs from completely losing their minds because everyone - but everyone - in town is setting off like 600 firecrackers at a time, or things that whistle and explode right at second-story level. And the dogs strenuously object.
So last Fourth of July, I'm inside in the most soundproof room in the house, petting the heads of my extremely unhappy dogs, when I look outside. There's a kid, maybe 13 or 14, setting off a series of fireworks that sit on the ground and belch out sparks and supernova-esque light.
He tries lighting one with one of those smoky stick things you use to light fireworks. No dice. So, he tries lighting it with a match. Nope. He comes over with, apparently, a lighter.
No. Now, the firework is smoking but not expelling sparks so clearly, ignition is not really the big problem in this situation. So then I see this kid vanish into his house, and come back out with a can of gasoline. I realize what is about to happen.
It happens, even as I am reaching for the phone to dial 911. The kid, with the kind of luck that makes my parents seem like lunatic worrywarts, stands there and watches a stream of fire travel up and into the can of gasoline - which he then throws, spinning flames in giant, looping arcs into the street.
A horrible, heavy-on-the-bass boom emerges as the vapors in the can explode, yielding a stunning fireball. The spectator teenagers gathered around him scream with joy.
So this year, as you are happily blowing up hundreds of dollars' worth of gunpowder and chemicals in your yard, spare just one thought for me, hiding in the back bedroom of my house with my dogs.
Safety first, and happy Independence Day. No taxation without representation. One if by land, two if by sea. And give me liberty, or give me death. But keep the fireworks.
(Soundbite of music)
NORRIS: Commentator Laura Lorson will be wearing earplugs when she celebrates Independence Day in Perry, Kansas.
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