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"If you think with your emotions, slight glandular changes are sufficient to revise your entire outlook."

— Brian Aldiss

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Monday, July 4th, 2005

I am now and always have been a lover of practical jokes. Here's one from my childhood.

I was about 7 or 8 years old and a lover of pyrotechnics, but my father was a firefighter and had taught me at least the basics of safely handling fireworks, so I did little damage to myself or my environment. I took some firecrackers apart on occasion, hoping to combine the powder for a larger bang, but fortunately such experiments literally fizzled out. I was however left with several pieces of the wrapping paper that goes around a firecracker, and several fuses, so I conceived of a plan to make use of them.

I found a plastic tube that approximated the diameter of a firecracker and glued the paper around it. I then glued a fuse into one end to complete the illusion. I put it in an ashtray, lit the fuse, carried it into the family room where my father was watching TV, and showed it to him.

Time has blurred the exact sequence of events; I might have set it on the floor in front of him, or he might have knocked it out of my hands. I do remember how he pushed me out of the way and threw his body between me and the danger. I was pushed up against the upright piano, with my face pressed into the back of his white t-shirt, as the fuse ran its course and went dark.

I don't remember being punished for this, save by the attendant shame, and while it did not diminish my pranking, it helped to add a sense of perspective, for which I and many others are grateful.

Thanks, Dad. Happy 4th.

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