Hello, my name is Clay (crowd responds "Hi Clay!")  I'm a grown man, and I am afraid of backyard fireworks.

Just to be clear, I am in no way afraid of the huge fireworks displays that light up the night sky on the fourth of July. I am deathly afraid of the small, grocery store fireworks that people love to play with in their back yard.

These Are The Devil

I think it's fair to say that this table represents all of my greatest fears wrapped into one ball of 'MERICA!

I refuse to be the guy with a drink in one hand and a shaky flame in the other, creeping up to light one of these menaces.  It always starts the same way . . . after a few drinks one guy decides it's time to break out "The good stuff."

It's still light outside, and nobody else wants him to do it, but he reassures the crowd that he has, "A little stash that he got on the hush hush, tucked away for later."

He screams for the kids to come around and creeps towards the Roman Candle of Stupidity.  The wick won't light on the first 24 tries, and just as he is ready to bust out the lighter fluid, the shaky lighter in his hand that he has all but forgotten about, ignites the wick.

He runs away, laughing and screaming at the kids to backup! Then stares for the next 12 seconds at the magic he has created.

This scene will play out thousands of times over the next couple of days, and I've learned to live with that.  The one thing that I have never learned to overcome though, is my paralyzing fear of Sparklers.

I Pee A Little Just Thinking About Holding These

The man who decided that rolling little pieces of metal in gun powder, leaving just enough room to hold it so the tips of your fingers get singed, is a jerk.

To make the situation worse is the fact that they decided the Sparklers would be perfect for kids!  I'm guessing they stumbled onto this great marketing idea after their original toy, "Bag of Broken Glass" didn't take the country by storm like they thought it would.

Being the good dad that I am though, I go along with the festivities.  My wife secretly loves watching me squirm as the kids run around with the sparklers, asking why I don't have one.  The worst part is when she conveniently disappears during lighting time.  Forcing me to face two of my biggest fears . . . lighters and sparklers at the same time.

When I really think about it though, being manly means facing your fears right?

And every year since they could walk, my wife has made sure that my kids have sparklers in their hands . . . so that would mean I have to stare my fears in the face over and over again right?

I think that by adding all this up, I might actually be the manliest man on the block!

Sure, I'm still scared to death of sparklers, but it's the bigger picture stuff that matters.