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When I was younger, I really used to get excited by the fourth of July. Our small town always had several days of events planned out around the weekend and people would come from all over the place to join in the celebration. Most of the events were focused around the ballpark just on the edge of town. There were games to play, booths with every kind of food imaginable, and live animal petting zoos. Even with all of those activities, I was even more interested in lighting fireworks. I would purchase as many as I could with whatever money I had and hang out with friends of mine. We'd all goof around and light them off together, then go get a snowcone or a funnel cake.

When I was about 13 years old, I was ready to go by the time the fourth rolled around. I had purchased several packs of smoke bombs and as many firecrackers as I could. I met my friends out at the ballpark and we started into the fun. We drew on the crushed rock with smoke bombs and lit firecrackers and threw them into the air, watching as they burst into confetti.

At one point during the firecracker lighting session, I hit a sort of weak spot with the goods that I had purchased. Five times in a row, I had lit firecrackers and thrown them, but they failed to explode. I was starting to get a bit upset, even though it only presented a very small percentage of the 1000 that I had purchased. After another couple 'duds,' I was really mad. When one last firecracker failed to work, I walked over to it and picked it up to see what the problem was. As I brought it close to my face, I watched as the end of the fuse make its final descent. Before I had a chance to react, it blew up only a foot from my face.

I stumbled backward as the shock hit me. My ears were ringing from the small explosion and my eyes had already welled up. The tips of my fingers on my right hand tingled strangely and were stained a dark grey. A couple friends of mine started laughing as I sat down hard and tried to fight off the tears. I wasn't hurt that badly, but it was still quite a shock to my system. After the ringing in my head had somewhat subsided and I could feel my fingers normally again, I got up and simply started walking home. I left the rest of my firecrackers lying on the ground where I had sat them earlier and yelled back for my friends to split them up. I was in a daze as I walked over a mile back to my house.

After that incident, I never bought firecrackers again. My enthusiasm for them was suddenly gone. I realized that it picking up a lit one was a stupid move on my part, but I still couldn't get past the memory of the small firecracker going off in my face. I still lit a few things after that, but things that exploded didn't have any appeal. I mainly stuck to sparklers and anything quiet that had a really long fuse.

Now, I find that my aversion for fireworks in general has grown even more. Last summer while I was out jogging, a couple kids in a car shot a bottle rocket at me and barely missed. After all the hassles and a few bad experiences, I look at it all as more of a waste of money and time than ever. It's great to celebrate and some fireworks even look kind of nice, but I'm glad it only roles around once a year. Now, the thing I look forward to the most now is getting a day off.