A Rebuttal.

To the recent short essay by Tawni Freeland, “Let the Eagle Sour, Er, Soar” (and an excellent one, at that) concerning the employment of fireworks by the local citizenry.

Back when I was young, my father went on sabbatical from the college and packed us all up and dragged us down to Mexico.

It was a formative experience.  First of all for a young New Englander boy, the young latino country girls are more or less the most beautiful creatures on the planet, by a wide margin.  They are magnificent spring flowers, the most exquisite you can imagine…then at age 25 or so they go through a chrysalis stage and in about 5 years emerge as the spitting image of their weathered hag mothers.

But I digress.

The Mexicans are an old culture, and far more sophisticated than we Americans ever give them credit for.  They are also assimilative, having absorbed and integrated a whole list of invader/conqueror cultures, not the least of which being the Roman Catholics.  Mexico is, by and large, Catholic.  And there are, by my count, at LEAST 52 Full Saints, Blessed Saints, Demi Saints, local saints, Saints with a Capital “S” and saints with a lowercase “s.”  There’s also a catalog of local heroes of the revolution, who all have birth dates, death dates, and dates when they were called to answer and met that call.

Mexicans like their fireworks.

They therefore commemorate each and every one of these larger-than-life ancestral heroes and icons of their faith with the FULL RESPECT of a complete and elaborate fireworks display and party.   They’re basically partying non-stop, every damned weekend.  With that much practice they’ve become pretty good at it too.

Work hard.  Play harder.  Love your mother and the blessed virgin Mary, in that order.  Make things go bang and laugh and dance to cheesy music.  Do it out in the town square with every one of your neighbors, family, employers, friends and foes.  Smile at the girls and hope they smile back.  Eat.

Then work like a dog until next Friday, make things go bang and start all over again.

If you forced the Mexicans to limit their exploding black powder exuberance to El Cinco de Mayo, it would be like shoving a knife into their guts and twisting it.

I do see how having 52 weeks of unbridled American Patriotism would get very tedious.  Even if we picked a new Founding Father to lavish with appreciation every week, by the time we got to December we’d be waving the flag and shooting off fireworks to celebrate the 2nd assistant public works director of the west side of Philadelphia in 1776, or possibly even the guy who pulled the weekend shift on the Charles River Locks in 1784. Yay, us.

We just have to roll up our sleeves, get to work, find 52 compelling civic-though-not-cloyingly-patriotic-nor-religious reasons to get our saturday morning flags flying at full mast in the “dawnzer lee light” and do it with our neighbors, family, friends, and foes alike, out in the middle of the open air.  With a bang.

Work hard.  Play harder, Make things go Bang.

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David Wozmak (dwoz) is a father, musician, husband, writer, mechanic, painter, carpenter, stoneworker, cook, information architect, graphic artist, gentleman farmer, and campaigner against entropy, despite the obvious futility. Born and raised closer in miles and spirit to Boston than anyplace else, he lives in southern NH.

4 responses to “Thus, I rebut Tawni”

  1. Tawni Freeland says:

    Wait. What’s this about my butt over here? Heh.

    I’m such a book nerd from childhood that “dawnzer lee light” immediately sent my brain to “Ramona the Pest” by Beverly Cleary. How embarrassing.

    “Work hard. Play harder, Make things go Bang.” Hmmm. Clearly this quiet lass of Scandinavian descent wouldn’t do so well in Mexico. I admit that I’m high-strung and jumpier than the average bear. I have been walking on eggshells this week, waiting for the next explosion outside that sounds like a home invasion in progress. If someone would just go ahead and build me the safe room, it would all be okay. (:

    Wow. What an amazing experience for young boy you that must have been, just up and moving to Mexico. I love Mexican folk art and its bright, happy colors – especially Dia de los Muertos and Catholic religious-themed stuff. I even have a brightly decorated five-foot-tall skeleton from Mexico grinning at me from the corner of this red-walled room as I type.

    No, YOU rock it harder than anyone, dwoz. YOU do! xoxo.

  2. “There’s also a catalog of local heroes of the revolution, who all have birth dates, death dates, and dates when they were called to answer and met that call.” I like that bit a lot.

    I am at work on a project with a friend these days, about cyclist civility. It may, or may not, get off the ground. Its predecessors include a project about general civic goodness, a project about civility in the workplace, and a project about civility in the context of settling a dispute (how to get out of a traffic ticket civilly, how to enter and exit a doorway where one or more persons is heading through the same doorway, civilly, and so on).

    In the process of talking about all this good, right manneredness and such, we toyed with the idea of designating civil (as opposed to civic) heroes…I think fireworks would be a nice touch!

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