by Jerry Guarino
On a recent road trip to
Canada, I discovered a most unusual business in
Oregon. Fireworks. Im not talking about the
stands they have in other states, where you can
pick up some sparklers, firecrackers and bottle
rockets. No, in Oregon they have thrown out the
public safety ordinances cities usually impose on
explosives. In fact, they seem to embrace it.
Huge tents, the size of a Ringling Brothers
circus, house millions of implements of
destruction from the iconic firecracker to
something comparable to C4, napalm and nuclear
But the most intriguing aspect of this free-for-all
business was that for the most part, these huge
tents are manned (uh, womaned?) by teenage girls;
school clubs, sports teams, cheerleaders; all the
kids who used to hold car washes and bake sales
were now selling the second most desired
commodity known to modern man, not to mention
teenage boys. Apparently, the profit margin is
higher on weapons of mass destruction than the
cost of soap, water and baking ingredients would
Kelly, the captain of the local high school
tennis team, and her teammates were one of twelve
such groups inside the 3000 square feet of tent
space, just outside Portland on the Saturday
before the Fourth of July. The were dressed in
their tennis uniforms, ivory white with red trim
and matching socks and sneakers, oddly
reminiscent of the USC song girls. Other groups
of girls there included the yearbook staff, the
school band, the field hockey team, the book club,
the volleyball and basketball teams, the French
club and the school library volunteers, all
raising money for some trip the following year.
Kelly was dating David, the captain of the boys
tennis team. David used to visit the tent, along
with every other male in a ten-mile radius, not
to buy, but to chat with his beloved girlfriend
of three years.
Hi Kelly he said.
Hi sweetheart. I was hoping you would stop
by. Keep some of these creepy old men from
hanging around our booth.
Well, you have the most beautiful girls
here, except for maybe the French club.
Kelly punched him lightly in the arm. French
Just kidding David said as he smiled.
You know I only have eyes for you as
he glanced over to the French club girl holding
the four foot rocket with a skull and crossbones
and large red print warnings and disclaimers
about lost appendages and eyesight.
You better, or you can find another girl at
Cal next year; Ill take that Stanford spot.
Heck, no. Wed be rivals and have to
sneak around. I cant wait to get to
Berkeley with you. By the way, did you hear from
the Cal coach about making the team?
She sent me a letter inviting me to try out
this summer. Everyone who makes the team gets a
scholarship. But she hinted that she couldnt
imagine my not making it.
Great. Wish I were as lucky. Apparently
California has a lot of great boy tennis players
from Socal locking up the scholarships, but I did
get an invitation to try out for the freshman
Youll make it David. You won the high
school state singles title. Besides, you have me
as a training partner and she laughed. Mike
acknowledged the jibe.
I have to go run some errands for my folks.
Are we still on for burgers and a movie tonight?
Sure, looking forward to it. Pick me up at
my house at seven. She leaned over and
kissed David on the lips. David just smiled and
winked as he left the tent and passed the
ambulance outside handing out safety flyers for
That evening David and
Kelly cuddled in their car at the drive-in,
almost watching the double feature of scary
teenage movies, taking just enough time away from
kissing to glance at the movie and eat snacks
when they were interrupted by a loud bang at the
side of the car. Outside was the culprit, Mike,
linebacker from the football team. David was
first to react.
Damn Mike, you scared the shit out of us.
Just messin with you guys. Youre my
favorite non-sports couple. I saw you on my way
back from the snack bar.
Well you can keep on walking, said
Kelly. The movie is scary enough.
Aw, hear that David. She thinks Im
scary. Mike made a monstrous face and left.
What an asshole said David. Are
Yeah, Im OK. Wonder what college hes
It wont be on his academics, thats
for sure. But his football skills should get him
in somewhere. I heard U. of O.
Another obnoxious duck. Hell fit
right in. Kelly noticed that Mikes
car was far ahead of theirs, in the front row
next to the big screen, so they shouldnt be
interrupted again. Is he still dating Lynn?
I think so. Thought she had better taste
than that. Shes in the French club, you
know. David knew this would get him in
trouble but couldnt resist.
Kelly play pounded him again and they fell into
each others arms kissing.
Kelly saw Lynn walk past their car to the
bathroom. Hey Kelly Lynn said.
Hi Lynn. You heard from your applications
Lynn was smiling. Yes, I got into UCLA, my
first choice. You guys are going to Cal, right?
David and Kelly both clapped. Yes, but Im
glad youll be in California too. We might
see you at a game or tennis match.
Id like that guys. Im breaking
up with Mike tonight. Thought this was just
public enough to keep him from getting crazy.
Well if he acts up, come back to us and well
give you a ride home.
Thanks guys. See you later.
Between features, they
showed those awful commercials with dancing food
at the snack bar; now all the cars were filled
with teenagers making out, having no reason to
look up. That is until they heard a loud
explosion. Kelly saw Lynn running back to their
What happened? Kelly said to Lynn.
When I broke up with Mike, he went nuts.
Pulled out some huge explosive and set it off in
front of the car. Unfortunately, it shot back
into his grill and now his whole car is on fire.
David opened the door and let Lynn in. Cmon.
Well take you home. You dont need to
be around him tonight.
Thanks guys. Kelly sat in the back
seat comforting Lynn. David could see them in the
rear view mirror, now imagining how it would be
with both of these girls together. Fireworks,
he thought and was smiling all the way home.