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Rant #53
(published August 16, 2001)
My Summer Vacation
by Terence S. Hawkins

[Editor's Note: Terence S. Hawkins is a Connecticut trial lawyer and frequent submitter to Poor Mojo's Almanac(k). His pieces include The Minnow Files, Protocols of the Elders of Sweden, Why I Don't Explain How I Lost My Sweater and A Fragment from Raymond Chandler's First Scenario for the Sopranos. "Hey Baby" will appear on PMjA this winter.]

Yo yo boyos,

I hope you got through the Fourth better than I did. Every year for I don't know how long I did the same trick. Hold the bottle rocket warhead in the teeth, wait for wife to light the fuse, and then with an athletic toss of the head flip it spinning skywards just as it ignited. Quite a sight done right just at sunset.

This year, I don't know, I guess it was the heat. Had to be. See, it was nearly a hundred here in CT that day and like an asshole I ran at two in the afternoon— how odd, I thought, no one else seems to be on the streets— so I was pretty dry when I got down to my in-laws party in Westport at four and they had a quarter keg of Bud— I know, I know, you don't tend to think of kegs of Bud in Westport but remember Paul Newman lives there— and the party was outside so I started sucking it down pretty good there and I know I was dehydrated because when the sun was going down at nine I still hadn't taken a leak.

Which is when I went out into the yard for my famous annual trick. My wife was saying, I can't believe you're still doing this, you're forty five, and my brother in law was saying, hey terry, it's okay, we have a satellite dish, we can watch something if we get bored, but I kept saying no no no, tradition's tradition, and anyway there were forty people or so in the yard clapping their hands and chanting RO-KET RO-KET.

So I'm out in the yard and the rocket is in my teeth and my wife is taking so long to light it my saliva is mixing with the gunpowder and it tastes really weird and I think hell this might turn into a dud after all and all of a sudden sparks start flying and my wife runs back and the crowd cheers and I start the head toss and I don't know what happens then but I let go a little late so my head is facing straight up when I let the rocket go so that's just when the engine catches which means it's driving straight down through my open mouth into my alimentary canal.

I don't remember exactly what happened next which I guess is a blessing but they say there was dead silence when the rocket disappeared down my throat and then there was this funny muffled CRUMP when it blew up in my stomach. They say I stood there for nearly half a minute before I started clutching at my throat and then my belly and then I started running towards the kids' inflatable wading pool and I guess I kind of pushed a couple of the kids out of the way a little harder than I should've but consider the circumstances so anyway that was what the EMTs pulled me out of, amazing how fast they got there but that's Westport for you no crime no welfare I guess their taxes have to go for something.

So I just got out of the hospital. It's funny, but it turns out what they had to do for me to fix my stomach was just like that thing they do for the guys who get over five hundred pounds and have to order their bib overalls through the mail and shower after they shit because there just isn't enough paper, ever. Tonight I had three peas for dinner.

Did you guys get the "Hey Baby" story?


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