This, folks, is the reason I do not write about current events: By the time I get around to writing about them, the word “current” has ceased to be an appropriate descriptive term.
Be that as it may, however, I basically promised Beth I would write about Acmenormous, which happened July 3rd. After all, it was definitely worth writing about… so here, for your reading pleasure:
Bellingham, Washington. College town. Artsy. Bohemian. Green, in more ways than one. Liberal, by which I mean Democratic, if not socialist. Hippie and accepting, outdoorsy. Peaceable, except when picketing or demonstrating. Little city. Canadian-infused.
Who knew that it was half an hour’s drive to a different world?
Acme, Washington. Small town. Lots of cows. And Republicans. Thoroughly patriotic, as far as I could tell; either that, or they just really like fireworks. Education?—well, I didn’t like the way they spelled “vendors”, but apparently “venders” is an allowed spelling according to Messrs. Merriam and Webster.
Acmenormous, basically speaking, is a fireworks show—not just any fireworks show, though. If rumor doesn't lie, the masterminds take all the money they get from the previous year and use it to buy fireworks for the next year. They set them off in a giant field outside of Acme, and even Bellingham rebels show up to watch. Judging from the crowd, however, I’d have to say most of them didn’t come from Bellingham: we drink beer over here, too, but not usually with Kenny Chesney. And all those car stereos weren’t playing Bon Jovi.
The greatest thing about our Acmenormous experience, however, didn’t have anything to do with fireworks or music or small-town culture. It had to do with the guys in the next car over. Beth said she knew before we had fully parked that hilarity had joined us for the evening.
We got out of the car, and immediately one of the guys said something funny. He wasn’t talking to us, but he spoke too loudly for anyone to help hearing.
We Caucasians—despite the fact that I’m registered with the government as a Creek Indian—can’t say certain things without accusations of racism. The same does not hold true between a young African-American, whom I’ll call Tim, and his young Hispanic friend, herein dubbed Carlos. As Beth put it, “I’ve never heard so many racial slurs in one night.”
For instance, in the course of a conversation they had with the nearest guy in a pickup, Carlos said “Yeah, I work in the fields picking raspberries.” Carlos, I might add, wore a Hollister California shirt and sparkling white tennis shoes, and had fussed about having to “Shout out” a small grass stain on his shorts.
“Yeah, I’m his boss,” Tim chimed in. “I tell him ‘I see you pickin’ them light berries,' and I say, 'Don’t you pick no light berries, I tell you to pick them dark berries. You put those back.’ ”
At this point, the pickup man motioned toward Beth, who had tears running down her face from laughing so hard. Tim and Carlos welcomed us into their evening from then on.
Football came next on their agenda, and they formed a touch-tackle game with one older guy who knew how to play, a bunch of young boys who had varying degrees of skill, two girls, and themselves. We were the “crowd noise,” and they called on us several times. In between duties, we laughed. Tim kept telling people not to step on imaginary vegetables, supposedly mingled in with the long grass. He also teased Carlos for having no knowledge of the Spanish language. He, however, had no knowledge of the ball or the rules.
“Is he black?” Carlos asked the older guy, teasingly, halfway through the game. “Is he black? He can’t play football!”
“What are you talking about, Carlos?” his friend returned. “You can’t speak Spanish!”
Eventually, the football game dissipated and the guys headed off somewhere; a couple of my brother-in-law’s friends showed up; the daylight faded. I got cold and sleepy, and my mind wandered away, not to return until the loudspeaker informed us that the fireworks would happen shortly.
Somebody’s granddaughter played the Star-Spangled Banner on the saxophone, just before the fireworks. And they did have some big fireworks, especially for a privately-run show. And then I fell asleep in the car, waiting to get out of the field. At least I wasn’t driving.
It’s a good show. Everyone should go next year.