• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

    • July 4, 2013 in Columnists

    Got a match?

    It’s that time of year when a man’s innermost desires surface, when his inner child comes out to play. And what does his inner child want to play with? Matches.

    The Fourth of July is to men what Valentine’s Day is to women. We both want fireworks, but in different forms. For women, it’s romance and flowers and caressing and kissing and endless hours of passion. For men, it’s lighting stuff on fire. No wonder we can’t get along.

    What is it with men and fire? If a woman tries to light the fireplace or the barbecue, the man starts squirming. That’s his territory, his thing. He’ll start dropping hints about getting the coals or kindling going and will get progressively more agitated if you don’t produce a flame quickly enough (which, in a man’s mind, is about 15 seconds).

    If things don’t go up in smoke soon, he’ll snatch the matches from your hand and shove you aside, unable to relax until a blaze that would cause Satan himself to nod in admiration flashes five feet into the air.

    Fire does to males what catnip does to cats. Even makes them a little wacky. They can’t resist it. Never is this more evident than on the Fourth of July. The prospect of a supply of pyrotechnics limited only by the bounds of their wallets turns the brains of otherwise mature, financially responsible men into yogurt.

    Men will grumble when a woman spends $40 on a haircut or perfume, which last at least several weeks, but won’t even blink about blowing twice that much for Piccolo Petes and Rainbow Showers and Screaming Meemies that will be nothing but ash in mere moments.

    A man will balk at coughing up $15 for movie tickets but will happily fork over that much for a single fountain spray. Fifteen bucks for one single sputtering shower of sparks that sprays skyward for a few seconds, screeches, and then peters out into a little flame in the street.

    Here’s where we separate the X’s from the Y’s. Following that willful incineration of her hard-earned cash, a woman will smack her hand to her forehead and say, “I can’t believe I just blew 15 bucks on that.” A man will squeal “Let’s do it again” and race back for more.

    I’ve done my time in the Little League fireworks booths and observed the phenomenon over and over. Fireworks are a man thing. Women will look at the flyers and find a few reasonably priced items that will keep their youngsters happy without putting them in the emergency room. Men don’t have time for no stinkin’ flyers. They peer through the little mesh window at the cornucopia of pyrotechnic devices and their pupils dilate like starving children at Smorga Bobs: I want it all and I want it now!!!

    The lust for fire even affects a man’s ability to communicate. Within seconds of approaching the fireworks stand, a man’s verbal abilities deteriorate and he just starts pointing: give me that and that and that and that and that. They don’t care what it costs, they want their annual fire fix and they want it now. Those who are too impatient to go through the selection process just point to the Block Party: $200 worth of fountains, ray guns and smoke bombs, all conveniently packaged for the pryo-on-the-go.

    I remember selling my first Block Party while doing my time in the swim team fireworks booth. With eyes glazed over in anticipation, this guy pointed up at the box, grunted, and handed me a fistful of cash.

    Before I handed the treasure over, I pointed out that $200 would buy groceries for a month. Or pay the utility bill. Or take a good chunk out of the car payment. Do you really want to take $200 and just burn it up? Why not just light your money on fire dollar by dollar and throw it into the air?

    He looked at me like I was some sort of lunatic, grabbed his Block Party, hopped into his car and peeled out. With all that prettily packaged gunpowder in his possession, he couldn’t focus long enough to give me a verbal response.

    But I know what he was thinking: Have stuff. Must burn now.

    You see, fireworks transport men back to their evolutionary roots. Ever since that first caveman threw sparks onto dry leaves, males have been unable to resist playing with fire.

    When you place flammable material in a man’s hands, eons of evolution peel away until only the monosyllabic caveman core is left. Besides fire, only two other things will reduce men to a Neanderthal state: food and sex. Maybe because when you get right down to it, men only have three basic survival needs: Must eat. Must boink. Must burn stuff up.

    You can’t fight nature, ladies. Boys will be boys, and so will men, especially on the Fourth of July. They need to burn things the way they need to scratch their bellies when they get out of bed and spit into the toilet before they relieve themselves.

    Let them have their fun. But be smart. Keep the receipts. Then, when Valentine’s Day rolls around and he starts grousing about the cost of a dozen roses, just wave that fireworks receipt under his nose and tell him “Not. One. Peep.”

    (This column first ran in the Winters Express and Davis Enterprise in June 2002.)


    • This was laugh-out-loud funny and RICH with truth. Your appropriate pyrotechnic post will make many smile on this Fourth. May all those reduced to monosyllabic cavemen entertain the lucky today!

      • Karla

      • July 4, 2013 at 9:12 am
      • Reply

      Right on the money! I live in a county in Nevada where fireworks are LEGAL, year round. There are three huge fireworks (only) stores… all last week the ample parking lots were PACKED with cars…. undoubtedly with the vehicles of residents from the adjacent, populous county where fireworks are NOT legal. Even the threat of citations from the Highway Patrol (electronic billboards are posted each year at this time at either end of the highway from my town to the next), accompanied by LARGE fines, AND confiscation of the illicit goods will not deter them. An endless parade of “chariots of fire” seeking to satisfy the “basic need” outlined in your article….

    • I remember being a tiny girl (probably around 5) and my father helping me to light a firecracker with his lit cigarette. I was fine and uninjured, but my mother came storming out, yelling at both of us. I was told that I couldn’t light fireworks on my own until I was 40. I think I was about 30 before I realized that she was probably exaggerating.

    • How dare you!

      • Maya North

      • July 4, 2013 at 10:50 am
      • Reply

      Oh my merciful stars, sister, you speak the truth!!! With my husband, it’s bonfires on the scale of volcanic eruptions! Ye gods…

    • Karla – See? It’s an addiction… they can’t help themselves, no matter what the consequence! They MUST have it!

    • “It’s very dry out there, and I understand limiting fireworks because you don’t want to start a fire. But for the birds?” Gutfeld asked.

    • All of this is a long story to explain why I can’t help but grind my teeth when I hear one of these “ middle class is struggling ” stories. I’m not saying the middle class hasn’t been hammered on several fronts and I more than recognize many people are having a tough time of it these days. But we do need to be honest and admit that a fair amount of this is self-inflicted. And buying fireworks is probably the dumbest way to turn cash into garbage.

      • davidlacy

      • July 7, 2013 at 7:12 am
      • Reply

      @ Cameron: People spending a few dollars to entertain their families on the Fourth of July = evidence of a largely self-inflicted middle class recession. Hmmmm ….

    • Even sadder than people blowing hard-earned money on fireworks would be if they didn’t… because they couldn’t.

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