Hello. You probably know me as the pissed off looking guy with a cane you tend to see furtively smoking cigarettes in his porch chair while wearing a suit in the late evening hours. You often may ask yourself “why is he always wearing a suit” and “why do I never see him before 7 p.m. at night?” The answer to that question is that I’m an attorney, and I tend to get up pretty early in the morning to head to my office. I also only really return home at night after all my work is done. You see, it isn’t that I’m not sociable, it’s just that I’m tired and those early evening hours, when I’m sitting on the porch and enjoying a glass of whiskey and some nicotine, are about the only quiet moments I get in a life full of kids, dogs, and legal bullshit from other people in the area.
And that’s sort of why I want to talk to you today, because, see, getting up early in the morning and shit tends to mean that I go to bed early at night. Like, not at 7:30 p.m. or something, but at a respectable hour. You know, maybe 9:30 or 10:00. Not “Grandma’s bed time” but not too far off. Early to bed and early to rise and all that. Except, lately, I’ve been finding it to be hard to get to sleep at night. Because it’s summer, and you’ve found out the fireworks stands are open.
Now, I get that you’re excited about the fact Pennsylvania just made the “boom boom tubes” legal for you to use after drinking the better part of a case of lager. Hell, I am too! Who doesn’t like a nice, awesome Fourth of July celebration with shit flying through the air and exploding! It’s a wonderful euphemism for the America we all know and love, especially that part where it blows the fuck up and especially over the past couple years. And on the Fourth of July, I’ll gladly descend from the throne that is my porch to join the unwashed masses of the neighborhood in an orgy of colorful explosions.
But I think you may need to check your calendar because, despite what you’ve apparently been thinking for the past 27 days, it isn’t the fucking Fourth of July yet, so you should goddamn well cool it on the nightly fireworks.
I know, you think that I’m being maybe just a little too dickish on this, but every time you set off your fireworks at night it sort of sets my dog on a barking fit that lasts the better part of 30 minutes. Then he’s on edge for the rest of the night, barking at every goddamn noise. Like, every fucking noise. A strong breeze will set him the fuck off. And considering his dog bed is in the kitchen, and right under my bedroom, that means every fucking night for the past 27 days I’ve been treated to the dog randomly going goddamn insane throughout the night because you just have to get your nightly fireworks fix in. I mean, it got so fucking bad that a couple weeks ago I did what lawyers do: I started looking up the fucking town ordinances to see if there was maybe some way I could convince you to quiet down.
What I found did not help my mood on this. See, there actually is a provision in the town ordinances that prohibits the use of fireworks except by permit and except on the Fourth of July. It would seem that this would make me happy, because now I would be able to politely inform you that there’s an ordinance and, gee golly whiz, I sure wouldn’t want you to get in trouble! However, it made me angrier. Because, see, this ordinance forbids those fireworks after 10:00 p.m., and, as I’ve found out over the last several nights, you’re setting your fireworks off at exactly 9:58 p.m. every evening with a display that lasts for exactly one minute and fifty-nine seconds.
This has led me to believe that your timing of the fireworks is not mere happenstance, but rather is a premeditated nightly act of defiance, keeping precisely within the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of it. I believe that you are doing this as an act of outward, yet lawful, aggression towards not only myself, but all other people and animals in the neighborhood. It certainly can be no mere coincidence that your fireworks displays are precisely timed to begin and end at the latest possible time allowed by law every goddamn night. As such, I feel attempting to address this matter with you directly and politely will be fruitless, as you are most likely the type of person to smile snidely and sarcastically say “I ain’t breaking any laws doing this, lawyer man!”
I bet you don’t even attend the monthly council meetings to weigh in on the status of the Main Street Crosswalk Painting project which, after four long years in committee, has finally been approved pending subcommittee approval of the shade of yellow to be used. Where’s your community spirit, you reprobate?
To some degree, I tip my hat to you and your narrow, certainly spiteful observance of the letter of the law. However, in your quest to skirt the edges of legal and illegal conduct, you have made a powerful enemy. See, I am fully aware that I am the only attorney that lives in this godforsaken hell hole of a small town. So your knowledge, your skill, your mastery of the arcane bylaws and ordinances that you flaunt in a “you can’t touch me, neener neener” manner have finally met their match. Because you, sir or madam, are a mere neophyte in the ways of petty code enforcement. I was born to it. It is my sustenance.
And it will be your undoing.
For instance, did you know that it is clearly against the town codes to allow your grass to grow to a height of 5 inches anywhere on your property? That would include around the decorative pond in your backyard. I checked. Definitely not an exemption for water features. Additionally, and this one is neat, did you know you can’t have your dog out unattended even on a lead within the town limits unless you have a “sturdy fence of wood or chainlink material, no less than 3.5 feet tall” surrounding the entire yard area the animal is in? I noticed you don’t have one of those. Hey, I saw that your kid likes to take strolls down to the local all night gas station about three blocks away at night to get a Slurpee. However, our town curfew bars them from being outside after 10:00 p.m. unless “accompanied by a blood related adult or legal guardian” lest they be “taken by the constable or watchman to a place of refuge and placed there for care.”
That last one may be a little outdated, but it’s still on the books.
I mean, look Fireworks Neighbor, I’m definitely not threatening you here. I’m just saying it may be more mutually beneficial to both of us if you lit your fireworks a little earlier. Like…say…5:00 p.m., about an hour before I come home. Sure, it’s still light out, but that’s actually a good thing considering you have what appear to be two daughters “betwixt the ages of 13 and 55” which could, according to this nuisance ordinance, be considered “ill reputed ladies of the comfort variety, subject to being taken forthwith to the town stocks unless a male of good character shall make themselves known to claim them” if they’re out late at night. Considering we don’t have a stocks anymore, it’d certainly be a shame to have to build one. Probably set that crosswalk back another couple months.
So, you know, if you agree just let me know. If there are no more fireworks at 9:58 p.m., I’ll assume we understand each other. However, if tomorrow night there’s a boom in the sky…
…laws exist for a reason.
Sincerely, your neighbor,
The Boozy Barrister