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Issue #3: Apology

March 1st, 2012 by


Occasionally, people like to tell me that sex is like fireworks. Especially casual sex… the ‘spontaneously unexpected’ and the ‘one night stand.’

“Fireworks! Intense heat and motion all at once! The ultimate pay-off, no strings attached! Let loose a little, Claire, just indulge yourself for once — You’re such a prude.”

Alright, fireworks = sex. I get it. It seems to be a pretty standard comparison, much like the old, ‘gotta drive the car before you buy it’ adage. And that’s fine with me, I actually do love fireworks– Explosions and pyrotechnics of any kind, really. I’ll even settle for a good, strong, and hot campfire. Set me down in front of that thing and I’ll let it captivate every ounce of my attention. I’ll marvel over the crackling glow until until it burns itself down to a light, feathery ash. Toss me another log and I’ll do it all over again– no recovery time needed.

Fire and explosions are great. But, if I may, I really need to make a past-due apology to a particular firework from my days of yore. No, literally– it’s not a euphemism. I want to apologize to a mass of cardboard, black powder, and Happy Flower Blossoming Pagoda crepe paper.

As a kid, I used to go pick our family’s firework assortment with Dad every year for the Fourth of July. We would drive down to the stand in front of K-Mart and I would go through the line, begging for ten of everything, and Dad would approve about eight percent of my requests. And I always wanted a big, huge fountain from the last table, which would have tripled our bill all on its own. And of course, that one always got declined. Until one year…

One year, we just decided to get a fountain. That was it. We blew our entire budget on one of those enormous exploding paint cans that soar up in all directions and light up the block. I had wanted one of those fountains for as long as I could remember. Just one. Just to see what it was like! In the world of childhood fireworks… well, legal fireworks, mind you… a fountain like that was the end all. The DEED of all fireworks. I cannot describe the excitement I experienced from watching a wad of cash turn into a giant explosive. I could sense the delicate power of cardboard chemical reaction on the ride home, and I guarded that baby in my arms at every turn of the wheel. Okay, okay, so… you know what happened when we got it home and lit it up? No, it wasn’t a dud; there was no embarrassing failure to perform.

The fuse ignited.

Sparks flew.

It did what it was supposed to… I think.

And I feel compelled to tell you that it was pretty cool, because it probably was…

But the truth is, I can’t remember. Nah. I can’t even remember what color it was. All I know is that we lit it up and then we went to bed. I don’t remember that Fourth of July.

But I remember all the other years. I remember lining out all the fireworks on the curb, giggling with my sister about the order in which we should light them. Anticipation. I remember squealing at exploding frogs and spinning tanks… I remember covering my ears at whistling cats and egg-laying hens. I remember holding our noses through the smoke bombs and laughing under the late night streetlights. I remember barbecues, neighbors, and getting scolded for squirting mustard on the sidewalk, despite the grin on my face… I remember running down the street with a sparkler wand in each hand, writing names, stories, and wishes in the glow. Arguments over who got what flavor from the bag of saltwater taffy, while Dad prepared the next round. Staying out way past our bedtime. The way the night looked, how slowly the sun set, and the sound of those notorious Roman candles tinting the skies from some distant yard… always in perfect unison with the police sirens racing off to find them. I remember all the things that made their way into my heart on those nights.

But that giant fountain? The hottie of all fireworks? Oh, my pyromaniac’s dream… Alas! How I desired you. I promised you’d be fulfilling, that you’d be freeing, but you just didn’t make the cut. You never made me feel better… You never even added an ounce to my life’s worth, even though I promised you would. I’m sorry. Maybe, had I saved you for a much more meaningful Fourth, you could have meant something. Maybe then I would have kept you with me all these years… Maybe then I would at least remember you. But at this point, it doesn’t even matter that I experienced you. You were a waste of time and money. You were so no strings attached… And now you are so fifteen years ago.

I don’t tend to remember things just because they happened. There have been nearly a quarter of a million hours to my life so far, and while I’m sure they’re all jammed back in the damp recesses of my brain, somewhere, I’m not liable to recall them ever again if they’re not paired with reason or meaning. Sometimes, the end doesn’t really mean so much without the journey. Memories, emotions, and attachments? They really color our lives, and with much more than just a silver-fulminate lining.

So… sex sans attachments? Stirring my feelings and emotions when they’ve no surface to grasp? Please, help yourself. But on behalf of Happy Pagoda fountains everywhere, I’m going to pass.

Author: Claire

Claire writes Sexless And The City,'s bi-weekly column detailing the thoughts and experiences of a woman who's twenty five and waiting. Currently, Claire's starving artist soul lives inside the body of a corporate woman, but she's okay with that for now; it just means she gets to stay up late working on her own projects with a bowl of shrimp curry instead of Top Ramen. Aside from creative endeavors, Claire loves trail running, learning, history, and traveling.

3 Responses to “Issue #3: Apology”

  1. Sarah Elizabeth says:

    I am amazed! That is so true. :) I’m a teenager, a junior in highschool, and I decided a long time ago after watching what happened to other people who gave themselves away too early, to wait for marriage to have sex. It’s really hard sometimes to sit back and watch other people “have all the fun” and party. It’s tempting to give in to instant gratification sometimes. But this inspires me to hold out, keep all my romantic ideas about what sex, relationships, and love should really be. Thankyou for sharing your talent. :)

  2. Claire says:

    Hey, thanks, Sarah! It can be difficult to watch everyone else around you jump in to what the general expectations of ‘fun’ is, and while some people do enjoy that lifestyle, I’ve met far more people who are twice as insecure about it, and often to the point of regret. If waiting is truly important to you, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s difficult at times, but genuine romance and love are out there… it just takes a bit more time to find them than it does in the movies. 😉

  3. ThatGuy says:

    Great job, Claire! The fireworks metaphor was a strong one. I’m VERY happy that you chose to write in response to how most people glorify casual sex. That takes guts! I would say you cleared the bar :-) Looking forward to the next issue!

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