Thursday, June 30, 2005

"America Rules! Let's Blow a Piece of it Up!"

America! WHOO!
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I love the Fourth of July.
Not because I love America. Well, I do love America, but not the jingoistic celebration of America. I love late-night diners, reality television, mullets, our desire to be thin but not eat right or exercise. The America I love is made of tiny moments and single people that come together to form a big mosaic of squee-enducing "I love this place!" moments.
I love the Fourth of July because it's like New Year's Eve with better weather. You get drunk, and somebody who's less drunk than you drives you around in some sort of motorized vehicle (motorcycle, motorboat, car, dangling out of the bed of a truck). You watch fireworks. During the Fourth, you may light a few explosives off. You may even keep your hearing and all ten toes if you play it right. You get to sing "God Bless America" all day in an off-key tone. You can wear American flag paraphanelia and not be called a conservative. You hang around outside, sweating your ass off, the beer in your hand slippery from the condensation, everything wet and hot and smelling of grilled meats. You get a little teary at the pictures of soldiers dying they air on television, especially if they died in Iraq for no good reason. Yeah, you heard me. No. Good. Reason.
And the smell of sulfur reminds you of being a kid, in perhaps one of your earliest memories, watching the sparks of fireworks land on the blanket your mom brought, afraid it will light the blanket on fire, but it just fizzles out. You watch the explosions dance across the faces of your mom and dad, wonder how man can put stars in the sky, however temporarily. The smoke from the fireworks hanging in the hazy New England air, getting tired because it's past your bedtime. Feeling your father pick you up over his shoulder and carry you back to the car, half awake, half protesting because the fireworks aren't over and you want to keep watching, but your eyes sink and you fall asleep.
Maybe that's why my ideal Fourth is spent outside Boston (done the whole fireworks thing twice, thanks) in some kind of rural setting with cool people, sweating and swimming, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and watching fireworks on the water. I love that the Fourth celebrates everything stereotypically American-- meat, beer, war (fireworks and patriotic tunes), chicks in bathing suits and gluttony. It's a kitschy portrait of what America is, and I love the kitsch. So enjoy your nice long weekend, and hopefully I'll see you all on Tuesday (yeah, that's right!) with all your appendages still attached.

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