July demands to be noticed.
Just four days into the month, neighborhoods erupt in a cacophony of whiz-bang firecrackers, shrieking bottle rockets and the muffled percussion of the same thing happening in neighboring neighborhoods.
Of course, there’s always the prior week’s run-up to the holiday, followed by this week’s winding down. Scrrreeeeee-pop!
Yet if you can hear a firework, that means it’s an illegal firework — in Minnesota, anyway. A dozen years have passed since Jesse Ventura body-slammed the weight of the governorship behind legalizing ladyfingers and Roman candles. But the Body ran up against 60 years of precedent and had to settle for sparklers, spinners and fountains with the occasional “whistling effect.”
July’s soundtrack is clear evidence that many Minnesotans annually make their way to artillery caches also known as Wisconsin and South Dakota. There, they can legally buy Dyno Mighty Firecracker Sticks, Mega Thor missiles and Double Nuts Triple Ripple artillery shells before launching a life of crime by ferrying these explosives back into Minnesota.
Penalties exist. Possessing “explosive fireworks in an amount of less than 35 pounds gross container weight” could land you in jail for up to 90 days, or demand that you pay up to $1,000.
But first, they have to catch you.
This circumstance sums up the essential mission of July: avoiding authority.
Once people survive the holiday weekend without running into a police officer or a disgruntled neighbor, attention turns to the fine art of slipping away on Friday afternoons without being detected as AWOL.
(Accomplished pros also will have mastered the even more delicate art of slipping in late on Monday mornings. The successful execution of this maneuver is a perverse joy to behold, for even as you resent your colleague’s flouting of policy, you are taking notes.)
Granted, the July bugout these days requires less skill than in the past. Minnesotans have resigned themselves to never being able to reach anyone after lunch on Fridays, so there are fewer attempts to schedule a meeting, fewer telltale phones that keep ringing … ringing … ringing.
Why, what with call-forwarding, iPads and smartphones, it’s not hard to create the impression that, while perhaps not in your cubicle, you are somewhere in the office.
(Cough.) So we’ve heard.
Youngsters also spend July avoiding authority. There are endless variations of “I’m at the park/at Jenny’s/at Southdale/at the pool/at my community service project.” It doesn’t help that they’re all in cahoots with one another.
That, however, can be a double-edged sword, given that in every group, one kid never quite masters the strategic nuances and ends up on Jenny’s doorstep when Jenny told her mom that the sleepover was at Jessica’s. OMG.
Frankly, even authority figures aren’t immune to ditching the desk, although they have the exact opposite challenge: They need to make a great show of being “called upstairs,” or having to meet a client off-site. The trick is to exude a harassed urgency while not slipping up and complaining about this being “par for the course.”
Fact is, the boss being gone just enables opportunistic peons to escape. It’s a truth that both sides understand, and accept.
Such is the seasonal standoff called July.