With the approach of the 4th of July, and my own town’s weekend fireworks display occurring in view of my window as I write this, I got to thinking.
Fireworks would be BAFFLING to an alien races.
I’m not sure which would be worse. Being taken by surprise by the bright flashes and loud cracks and pops in the sky, panicking because those could only be the first signs of a deadly attack, complete with shells whistling through the air, or seeing people buying the things by the truckload, not just for professional use, but to simply light off in their back yard.
“Human-Steve, what are "Fireworks”? I see places of business opening out of nowhere with no information or advertisements beyond the single word.“
"Well, they’re.. Hmm.. I guess you’d call them toys, or maybe single-use decorations? They make bright lights in a bunch of different colors, and loud noises, and we use them to celebrate important events.”
The alien nodded, a gesture it had learned meant understanding. "Ah, I see. Digitally projected entertainment. We have similar devices on our world, though-“
Steve held up a hand, shaking his head. "Digital? No, no, no,” he chuckled. "They’re little explosives. Gunpowder packed with different kinds of material to burn in different colors when we launch them.“
"Ex- explosives?” The alien wringed two of its three pairs of hands, putting the other pair on the sides of its head. "Surely you jest! I saw families, children purchasing these fireworks!“
"Nah, they’re harmless. I mean, every year there’s an idiot or two that blows his hand off or sets his hair on fire, but I mean, they’re usually doing something stupid to begin with.”
The alien has no reply to this. What reply could there possibly be?