there's fireworks.


"let's get some beers," i said. my cousin was finally 21, so it was nice to finally have someone to drink with. i bought some guinness and some pyramids. this summer, all i've wanted to do is sit outside and drink. "we should set up chairs in the garage and drink," i said, "old school filipino-style." my uncles used to do that. they would sit on lawn chairs on that line where the driveway meets the garage, and they would sit there and drink. all day long with their lawn chairs and coors light.

i tried a sip of beer when i saw six or so. probably it was a heineken because that's what my dad used to drink. it tasted like shit. i didn't touch the stuff until i was about 17. my friends bought hard liquor, or else malt liquor. i didn't get it. it all tasted like shit. my friends and i would be sitting around drinking. "what's the point of this? it tastes awful," i said. "it's not about taste," one of them would say. "it's about how you feel afterward." but afterward, i would feel like shit, too. "the worse it tastes," a friend reassured me, "the more fucked up you'll get."

so we drank hard liquor and forties. i could never finish a forty. it was too disgusting. my friends, though, they could finish them no problem. i don't know why we kept drinking when it tasted so bad. there was nothing else to do, though, so we would keep drinking. when someone finished a forty, he'd throw the bottle out the window, even if it was in broad daylight. i remember driving home from joseph's house, and dong just chucked it out the window. i didn't get it. i supposed he was saying, if i'm gonna be drunk, i might as well litter, too.

so, on the fourth of july, i had some beers. i wanted it to be different than the last fourth of july, and the fourth of july before that, and even the one before that, and so on, and i thought a few beers might help. it didn't really. i got red in the face, and my mom kept asking me if i was okay. my aunt said i was allergic. i had two guinnesses and a pyramid hefeweizen, and i was out. my head was pounding, i was dizzy, and i had to lie down. i'm a lightweight. i fell asleep for a while, and then my cousin woke me. "there's fireworks," he said.

i went out into the garage, and i was okay. i lit up these little fireworks, and then i threw them into the air. it was kind of fun, waiting until the last second to launch them in the air. no one told me to stop, that what i was doing was dangerous, so i kept on doing it, and i finally felt somewhat like an adult. throwing legal fireworks into the air, my only validation of adulthood. some kids across the street stopped to watch our display. they looked at the fireworks with awe.

the finale was this barrel that my cousin's boyfriend lit. it lasted two minutes. "how much was that thing?" i asked. "twenty bucks," he said. "better be worth it." we watched it from start to finish. i wasn't able to tell him if it was worth it or not.

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