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Kirby: Hear that boom? That’s the sound of responsibility

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Robert Kirby, Tribune columnist

By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

First published Jul 27 2014 01:01AM
Updated Aug 11, 2014 10:33AM

It is my nature to be the least responsible person in any group of people larger than just myself. Given what I’m about to say, it’s only fair that I admit this up front.

I come by this condition honestly. I have poor impulse control, a genuine indifference to overwrought feelings and a well-known penchant for winding up self-important prudes.

Thanks to medication, a loving but tough wife, and the encroachment of age, I’ve gotten better about my "condition." Now I can sometimes go an entire hour without feeling the urge to pick a fight.

A recent letter to the editor asked my opinion regarding the late-night discharge of loud fireworks. The writer understood that people do this sort of thing on holidays, but couldn’t see the need to set them off after a time when most people are trying to sleep.

Since I’m a known purveyor of loud explosions, the writer asked, "What do you think, Kirby?"

My answer is simple. It’s OK with me. I can sleep through anything.

But that’s me. Late-night fireworks are not OK with my wife, my daughter, my dog and my 4-month-old granddaughter. Explosions at midnight not only wake them up but also get on their nerves, whereupon they get on mine.

Thursday night, my wife dragged me out to the porch after midnight to see all the fireworks going off. One distant house was particularly loud.

Me: "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"

Her: "I don’t know. Shoot your stupid cannon at them or something."

My heart leapt. Really? Counter-battery fire? Of course. Let’s see, the breeze is out of the south and it’s only a quarter of a mile. I could probably put a couple of 12-pound Brunswicks through the roof of their house.

She changed her mind. Someone would get hurt. The cops would come. I would get sued. She would have to visit me in jail. The usual responsible adult stuff.

Still, it was a good idea. Nothing fixes the irresponsible behavior of fireworks enthusiasts like someone who is even more irresponsible and better armed.

Defenders of fireworks will huff and bluster in defense of the late-night noise. "What’s the big deal? It’s only once … OK, twice a year."

Bull$%#t.

It may be MOSTLY twice a year, but it’s also whenever celebratory idiots feel like it, including Chinese New Year, American New Year, birthday parties, Presidents Day, Christmas, Groundhog Day or any gathering of bored adolescent males.

I know this stuff because I used to do it. I’d probably still be doing if I hadn’t gotten married and been forced to settle down.

Today, I do not shoot off my cannons (or any other device) before 9 a.m. (10 a.m. on Saturdays) or after 7 p.m. I don’t shoot them at all on Sundays. I also send out a neighborhood email warning everyone when I’m going to shoot.

"The loud noise you’ll hear at 12:05 p.m. is me, not Rio Tinto, the National Guard, or the Second Coming. The stuff coming back down will be Jolly Ranchers, gumballs and some snails from the garden."

So far only one of my neighbors has called the police, and I’ve only slightly damaged one of their roofs. A little mature consideration can go a long way in a neighborhood. Try it.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

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