July 4th on the Island

For once i did the the 4th exactly right. After moping around the oven formerly known as my apartment for days, i snapped out of it and realized i have friends in Long Island who are practically living at the beach. For the last week i haven’t been able to do anything but contemplate things like how i might get to the kitchen without moving. I think it said on the news that it was only safe to be alive between the hours of 4am and 7am. No? Oh that’s right, that was exercise. Which i did anyway because my tennis partner is an animal. When the heat index is at 100, i figure tennis is off, but there are a handful of crazies who go out on the court and lose a couple liters of hydration. But actually it was good. It feels a lot better to sweat from exercise than from, say, turning your head.

So back to the 4th. I didn’t bring my camera because i figured it would be an ordinary coupla days on an ordinary LI beach. First off, going to the beach with scientists is a whole different animal. Isabel, evolutionary plantology (that’s almost right); Brendon, marine biology; and Matt evolutionary fish things. Ok i should have been taking notes. I.e.

Me, looking at racks and racks of rocks with what seems like paintings on them, “What are these?”

Matt, “Fossils”

Me, “Oh cool. How old are they?”

Matt, “uhh ’bout 10 million years.”

Me, “Holy shit! 10 million years!?!”

Anyway, yeah, scientists on the beach. Fun! Learning! Ecology! On the walk over i learned about the mating habits of fiddler crabs, got an up close anatomy lesson of a horseshoe crab, and lazily overheard many leisurely chats about plants and seaweed referred to by those long latin biology-type names. But lets not underestimate how hot it was even on the shore on thursday. We basically had to stay in the water the whole time. Poor us.

Then the fireworks. Oh the fireworks. We went in search of a certain party on this beach that i forget the name of, but i will have to find out because i’m definitely going back next year. It was a relatively narrow strip of beach, facing Connecticut i think. And for as far as you could see in both directions were clumps of (mainly drunk) amateur pyromaniacs, Long Island style. Stepping on the beach there were fireworks going off everywhere, and it was hard to figure out where to look. The beach had this surreal Disneyland type color to it, like Pirates of the Caribbean. Thinking about it now it was because of all the smoke that was generated by the fireworks. So when the sky was lit up by the exploding lights, it was all reflected off this pretty white haze in front of the ocean. It felt kind of like what i’d imagine the revolutionary war might have been like, swap the fireworks for cannons, and the cheering gawkers with generals and colonels shouting orders. And it all smelled like burining something. The great thing about amateur fireworks is being able to be right up close to them. We picked through each group of firebugs and found a nice stretch in between two of them, laid down towels and enjoyed the personal show. The finale of each of the groups came sort of at the same time and each pulled out all the stops and set off a succession of their best and brightest in a battle of fire that went on directly above us for ten minutes straight. It was marvellous.

Later the group on the right packed up and was replaced by a new group with a giant black trashbag full of new supplies. This group was considerably drunker than the average drunk pyro, and one of the dads kept lighting roman candles, then throwing them in any direction, and then tripping and falling down in the sand. He nearly took a woman who had lent him a lighter’s head off. It was scary yet funny. It was all the 4th of July things you are warned about repeatedly, yet sneakily relish for some sick reason. Isabel and Matt were not appreciating it though and we moved on (though honestly i could have stayed and gawked the whole night). We decided again to look down the beach for the elusive party. The thicker crowds of revellers were all partying teenagers. Someone would say, “Is this the party?” and then we’d look around and calculate the average age as 16, and then move on. All the while the sonic booms of firecrackers reeled off, and mostly rock music blared from crackling speakers. It was kind of like one of those Hollywood Armageddon movies where the world is taken over by blood thirsty and sex-crazed teenagers. Again i was entranced. Again a couple in our group were most definitely not.

Eventually we called it a night and headed to a diner where i fed my now full blown addiction to disco fries. Perfect 4th i’d say. Friends, beach, fire, beer, and disco fries. God bless America.

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