Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fabulous fireworky Friday

It's Saturday as I compose this entry -- I was distracted last night. I'm re-reading "The Stand" by Stephen King, which is something I do every few years.

Don't sneeze. I'll jump, I swear I will.

Anyway, yesterday was a better-than-average Friday, because it was fireworks shopping day for the Pyrotechnics-lovin' Loftises. The kids and I picked up Wesley after work and drove to Bimbo's in Lenoir City for our annual fireworks pilgrimage.

Independence Day is my favorite holiday. I love it, and I've written about how much I love it here on this blog. To recap, mostly I love it because:
1. It's a holiday that doesn't require I go to Athens and hang out with extended family.
2. It occurs in summer, when the weather is more pleasant than in winter.
3. Homegrown tomatoes and other fresh produce generally play a big part in the menu.
4. Fireworks.

We always shop at Bimbo's for our fireworks. We've been shopping there for *years*. Ed knows me, he knows my taste, and he knows I'm going to buy a boatload of fireworks.

There's a secret to fireworks -- You can buy those $100, $150, or $200 mix-in-a-box collections, but I'm telling you, those things are *not* a bargain. You're going to waste 75% of your budget on dinky bottle rockets and boring firecrackers if you buy one of those boxes. Worse! Oh, worse, you'll get snakes and roman candles!

No, no -- here's what you should get: Multi-shot units and a couple of boxes of mortars. Don't let the salesman talk you into the double- or triple-shot mortars. Get the single-shot mortars. The double and triples have exactly the same amount of gunpowder in them as the singles, but the gunpowder has been divided out, so each consecutive pop is progressively smaller. Better to explode all the gunpowder in one big POW -- trust me on this. The singles go higher and spread bigger. Seriously.

So we went to Bimbo's, and the place was crammed full of people, and as I fought my way through the crowd, I couldn't find *any* of my traditional favorites. Oh, the fireworks have the *best* worst names!!!! They're all named by Chinese people who try to appeal to American patriotism, but they miss the mark and can't spell English. Like "Spirit of Misouri" instead of "Spirit of St. Louis." Or one of my old favorites, "Colourfull Wirld Wind." Snort!

But I couldn't find any of those old favorites. And I looked at Wesley, and I really thought, Wow, he needs food. (He's got diabetes, y'know.)

So I hustled the family out of Bimbo's and down the road to Quizno's. Woo hoo! Quizno's!!!! Y'all know my favorite sandwich is the Smoked Turkey. I've been getting the Smoked Turkey on Rosemary parmesan bread for *years*. I never get anything different. But I wanted something different this time, and... I couldn't pick an alternate! The whole family ordered sandwiches and they ran through the little toasting machine while I stood there and tried to pick something that *wasn't* Smoked Turkey.

I asked the guy behind the counter what he recommended, and he asked me what I *usually* got. I said Smoked Turkey, and he said with a crease of concern, "Oh, hey, that's a really good one..."

Wesley started reading the ENTIRE MENU ALOUD.

I agonized.

Fortunately, there was no one waiting in line behind me.

I finally ordered the Cabo Chicken, based on the fact that it had guacamole and something called "mild chipotle sauce."

Exactly when did the word "chipotle" become a standard vocabulary word in American cuisine? I don't even know what it is, but it's mentioned on every other fast food commercial these days. Is it salsa? Is it ketchup? Is it ... a vegetable? Just what the heck is "chipotle"?

Well, if my experience is worth anything, it's just damn hot, is what it is!!!!

The Cabo Chicken sandwich was faaaaaaaaaabulous. I loved it. It was the messiest sandwich at our table, dripping big globs of guacamole everywhere. We all sat there, laughing over how messy my sandwich was, and just generally enjoying dinner. My tongue was on fire from whatever was so dang hot in the sandwich, but that certainly wasn't going to stop me from eating.

As we left Quizno's and headed back toward Bimbo's, the heavens opened with a crash and rumble and then a strange plinking sound... HAIL. Pattering all around my beloved Prius!!! Oh, no!!!! Quick, like a little bunny, I pulled in at a bank -- long closed for the evening -- and took refuge under the drive-in window, alongside a very large Ford F-something truck. (He rolled his window down and asked me if I get good mileage from the hybrid.... pardon me whilst I guffaw... No, seriously, he just looked longingly at the Prius. I'm accustomed to that from drivers of very large vehicles.)

When the hail stopped and it turned to plain rain, we drove to Bimbo's... and just as I parked, hail came back. We stayed in the car until it passed -- it was smaller this time -- and then we made our way to the big fireworks tent, which the walls had been pulled down on. All the water was sloughing off the parking lot and through the tent, but that deterred me not one whit from my task -- after all, this was the least crowded the tent was going to be for the remainder of the holiday weekend, unless we got another rainstorm, which, these days, we can't count on.

(For instance, that monstrous storm never made it to little Philadelphia, which was dry as a bone when we got home later.)

So -- we trooped into the tent with its sodden and flooding floors, and I snagged someone in a Bimbo's Fireworks shirt and asked for Ed's assistance. She said Ed was busy, but she would get JohnJohn to help me.

Let's just get this out there -- The only place in the world where grown men can go by names like JohnJohn and Bimbo and Bubba and Pinkie *must* be the South.

I liked JohnJohn the first time I saw him. He looked solid and steady and reliable, with greying red hair and a beer belly that said, "I know how to relax." We shook hands, and I assessed his fireworks knowledge by telling him upfront, "I'm not spending more than $150, and I only like multi-shots and mortars."

The first two things he pointed out were monstrous and would have used up two-thirds of my budget in one fell swoop. I said no immediately to the mortar collection he recommended -- more than half of the mortars in the box were double-shot mortars. His eyebrows raised, and I explained my objection to splitting up the gunpowder.

An expression of respect crossed JohnJohn's face, and he moved on to smaller multi-shots. Less than a minute later, he picked up "Computer Bug," which was originally released in 1999 as "Milenium Bug." It has gone through three name changes, but it is my single favorite multi-shot firework. It shoots 100 spectacular little shells into the sky, popping and spinning and fizzing and emitting all kinds of colors and effects.

It ain't the Fourth of July if you ain't got Milenium Bug in your fireworks display.

My own opinion of JohnJohn's taste soared as he said, "This 'un's mah fav-ert."

JohnJohn! My own true love!

After that, pretty much anything JohnJohn picked up, I put in my basket. I was very worried about the budget as the buggy filled up and Wesley tried to maneuver it over the floodwaters swirling around our toes. None of us had a calculator, but JohnJohn got a piece of scratch paper and started doing the math. We grabbed a couple more multi-shots, and then made our way to the cash register, where Ed had *finally* shown up.

You should have seen the look on Ed's face when he realized that I had done my shopping and hadn't even waited for him to help me. He exclaimed to JohnJohn, "Hey! She's MY customer! What are you doing with MY customer? You BETTER NOT have done her wrong!"

I held up the newly-renamed Computer Bug and told Ed, "Don't worry, Ed, the minute this landed in my buggy, I knew I could trust JohnJohn." We all laughed.

Now, I didn't get the usual handful of poppers as freebies, but I did get an extra spark fountain. That'll be a nice change of pace in this year's display.

And I have a new fireworks expert with whom to discuss the merits of swimmy fish vs. buzzing bees, should the occasion arise.

The upshot and the lowdown:
- Try the Cabo Chicken if you want a change of pace at Quizno's; it's tasty.
- Buy your fireworks at Bimbo's in Lenoir City.
- Never judge a redneck by his accent or his funny name.

An *excellent* evening, any way you look at it!


Post a Comment

<< Home