When I was ten, the East Coast family took a trip out to Iowa to see the grandparents and old farming homestead. I don’t remember much from that specific trip. But I do recall that my 13-year-old second cousin had an enormous crate of the most magnificent fireworks ever smuggled across the Minnesota border, his dad’s lighter and a copy of License To Ill on cassette. Zombie Mark Twain could not have dreamed up a more carefree summer scenario.
The very first bottle rocket we launched traveled about 10 feet in the air, turned abruptly and flew directly into the enormous 1500 gallon propane tank that all farmers in Iowa seem to have on their property, for some farming reason.
My cousin took off running. I stood there with my arms splayed, like Kent* in Real Genius, ready to be enveloped in God’s soul-cleansing firestorm of rusty tractor parts and dead hog carcasses. Either that or the corn-filled silo could have gone up and I’d be covered in popcorn, also like Real Genius.
Nothing happened, of course. The tiny bottle rocket harmlessly bounced off the giant, reinforced tank and popped delicately in the cool summer grass. But for a split second, it was almost like this.
Next time I'll tell you about my second cousin's bitchin car stereo system and how the only vaguely hip-hop song he had was "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" so he had to cruise around Iowa blasting PM Dawn.
Actually, that's the whole story.
*Remember in Michael Clayton when Tilda Swinton hired the hit men to kill the crazy, naked lawyer and then George Clooney? One of those hit men was Kent! I know!