Jul 04

fireworksjpg.jpgThey say that if there are no fireworks in your relationship, you’re in trouble. I was in trouble.

The guy I eventually married and I — the operative word here being “eventually”— were about to have our first Fourth of July together. That, as my friend would tell me, is such a GIRLY thing to say. Well, yes. Yes, it is. But I take these things seriously and I wanted there to be, well, fireworks! Literally.

Macy’s puts on spectacular fireworks every 4th of July in NYC, and I heard that the River Café would be the perfect place to view them. So even though it was kind of last minute, I called to make a reservation. And I got it: Dinner at eight at a table by the window! A wonderful sign of things to come, things hopefully involving fireworks, I thought. Then thought no more about it, until the evening of the fourth . . .

The Wrong Place At The Right Time
The River Café is a “special occasion spot,” that is: expensive (as per our friends at Zagat), under the Brooklyn Bridge with great skyline views. The only problem, I imagined, was getting there from Manhattan. We probably should have taken the subway, but I was in my prime taxi- taking free-spending days. (Those were the days!) Besides, I have what is known as Kab Karma: I can get a taxi just about any time, any place, any weather. Not that night. . .

When we finally got one, the highway had more traffic than the 60% Off Sale Rack at Macy’s (I feel I owe them a plug here) and even though we had left early we were lucky to arrive before dark. But we did. Phew! A few sips of a very dry martini, stirred not shaken, and some soft piano music later, I casually asked the nice waiter where was the best place to see the fireworks. He rewarded me with one of those looks I have come to know only too well in the course of my life: What the hell is this woman talking about???

After a few minutes of panic, we found out the meaning of that look: if you wanted to, you could go outside, stand on a milk carton, crane your neck, and sort of see the fireworks, but this was NOT the best restaurant for that purpose. That would be the Water Club on East 30th Street, Manhattan, near where we lived on East 22nd Street.

Water Club? River Café? Anyone could make that mistake, right? Oh, never mind.

So anyway, determined to make the best of it, we headed outside at 9:30, where we stood on milk cartons, craned our necks, and sort of saw the fireworks. They probably were spectacular, but who could tell. My chiropractor was the only one who profited from this experience.

Coming home, we decided to take the subway, which was hot and crowded, basically everything I never wanted and more, then missed our stop and had to walk the rest of the way. When we finally got to our building, the doorman asked us how we were doing (don’t ask) and wondered why we hadn’t been up on the roof watching the fireworks with the rest of the tenants. They were great (the fireworks, not the tenants), according to Jose. Jose couldn’t see them because he was stationed at the desk. But he, at least, had a logical reason for not being up on the roof that night. Our apartment is on the 14th floor, so it would have been a really short commute. We could have seen the stars, and it wouldn’t have cost the moon. Talk about feeling like an idiot.

I wish that I could tell you that we never had any problems with fireworks ever again, but that’s not entirely accurate. Every year, something seemed to happen. We froze our asses off on the beach in East Hampton a few times, where you could hardly see the fireworks in the the fog and got sand in your pants. Several years it rained. Once there were thunderstorms. A few times we were away and saw local fireworks. Cute, but not quite ready for prime time.

Finalmente. . .

And then it happened! Finally. By some amazing piece of pyrotechnic providence, we ended up in Venice on July 15, for the Festa del Redentore. That’s a holiday celebrating the end of the plague in 1576, like they really know the DAY it ended. And as if the Italians need an excuse for anything, it’s a good reason to put on a show of extraordinary fireworks. Molto fantastico!

Truly, they were the best I’ve ever seen, better than Macy’s even, although Macy’s are created by the Grucci Family and Italians are really, really good at fireworks. That night in Italy, Lou got the fabulous photo featured above. Is that the definitive shot of fireworks  or what?

And so, our story has a happy ending.
And a moral even:
Stick around long enough and they’ll be fireworks in your life.
Or at the very least . . . a good photo op.

Happy Fourth!

Photo by Lou Chisena, Venice, Italy, 2006.
Featured in his one-man show, Celebration! NYC, July 2008.

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