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Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner

Kermet's Home Page

January 2009



Happy New Year. I hope that you all made it safely through New Year’s Eve without injury and/or incarceration. Here in the Mainland, New Year’s Eve consists generally of going out to an event, drinking, dancing, and celebrating midnight with a toast. In Hawaii, New Year’s consists of going to someone’s house, eating, drinking, singing, and blowing stuff up.

In Hawaii, you start hearing fireworks the day after Christmas. It continues through New Year’s Eve when at midnight, 400 billion firecrackers go off in eight seconds. There is so much smoke the island looks like a Ziggy Marley concert.

All of this doesn’t bode well for a kid with asthma and fear of loud noises. I don’t even like balloons popping. Even growing up. During kid parties when they would start that game where you run to a chair and sit on a balloon until it pops, I would excuse myself to the bathroom and cover my ears until the carnage ended. I didn’t cry though. I didn’t. You don’t know. Of the few people I’ve told that story, most ask me if I’m serious. Like I would make that up. “You know, even though I enjoy biting and tearing balloons apart, I think I should make up a story that makes me look like a blithering sissy.”

So I was more of a sparkler kind of guy. Once when I was a kid we were at a relative’s house and I was goaded into lighting a firecracker (because cousin/peer pressure overpowers fear of boom-boom). The plan was simple. Light the firecracker with the mosquito punk and throw the firecracker. Got it. What I did, however, was light the firecracker and throw the punk. I let go of the firecracker as it popped about two inches from my hand. I had a huge blister that hurt indescribably. Considering it was on the finger I used to point, ring doorbells, and type, I decided my fireworks days were over. You may be asking, “Why were kids playing with fireworks?” My response to you would be “Great question.” I think back then, child endangerment meant you literally had to be dangling a kid over a shark’s mouth. It was a much simpler time.

Nowadays, in order to use fireworks in Hawaii, you need to get a permit. There is no written test or background check. Basically, it goes like this:

“Can I have a permit?”

“Do you have money?”


“Then here you go. See you at the hospital.”

On the KHNL website, I saw some fireworks safety tips put out by the Honolulu Fire Department. These are like the yellow speed limit signs before a curve. They make common sense but few will truly abide. Here are some highlights.

Use only approved fireworks from a licensed retail outlet that posts its retail license.

This accounts for about 35 percent of fireworks purchases. The rest are bought from a guy who knows a guy who may or may not have been in the military.

Always read and follow all warnings and instructions listed by the manufacturer for the safe handling and use of fireworks.

No one has ever, EVER, read the instructions on fireworks. They could offer $1 million if you call the number on the package and never have to pay out. It’s more “Find the wick and give it fire” than it is “Let’s read a bunch of words.”

Never point or throw fireworks at a person.

You hear that, older cousins. Just cause someone invents a tube that shoots 10 fireworks out of it like rockets, doesn’t mean you should aim it at younger cousins. I knew I was right on that.

Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

So on your planet, are there magical unicorns and snowflakes made of candy? If it weren’t for alcohol, we’d be inside playing Yahtzee.

Never attempt to relight malfunctioning fireworks.

My family is part Chinese. We’re not wasting a perfectly good explosive. Hold out a trash can cover as a shield and do what you gotta do.

Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

Especially if you lie a lot. Because your pants are on fire. Hey, not every joke has to be a gem. Some you just applaud the effort and range.

Never experiment with homemade fireworks. They are dangerous and illegal.

True. But does “homemade” include purchased fireworks that are put into stuff? There is an experimental and creative movement that wants to see what fireworks do in objects ranging from a mailbox to a soda can to the dashboard of a relative’s car. It might be illegal but it’s endlessly entertaining to the non-Yahtzee crowd.


As much as I joke about it, we were well supervised and other than a few blisters there were never any major injuries. And the new year always started with a bang and some great stories. Now if you’ll excuse me, my kids are playing with balloons so I need to go hide in the bathroom. And not cry.

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