Oh say can you see? Presumably you can, ‘cause you’re reading this right now. Or maybe you can’t, and you have some next-level futuristic text-to-speech thing that recites the words on a website. I wonder if it can do inflections as well. If something is all caps and with an exclamation mark, does the program yell it? FARTS! Fantastic.
In case you didn’t know, I have the maturity of an 11-year-old.
What I meant to do there is reference the opening line of our nation’s greatest of anthems. You may say it’s our nation’s only anthem, but if you do you clearly haven’t heard of R. Kelly’s Ignition Remix.* Anyway, I referenced The Star Spangled Banner ‘cause I love America. Specifically because America owns the 4th of July (Ok ok, there are other reasons I love America. Amber waves and purple mountains and whatnot). But man I love the 4th of July. It’s clearly the best of the US Holidays. It’s all about grilling, drinking beer, blowing sh*t up, and us giving the ‘ol middle finger to England. It’s a purely celebratory event. No need for reverence (MLK, Memorial, and Veteran’s Days), no BS origin (Labor, President’s, and Columbus Days), and you’re not obligated to hang with family (Thanksgiving and Christmas). Just unadulterated grillin’ and chillin’.
Here’s what my 4th of July may or may not have looked like:
I wake up extra early. I won’t say when, as you’ll simply scoff and say that that’s not all that early. But shut up, it is for me. After a couple of Freedom Stretches (sun salutations on any other day), I make a breakfast of only red and blue Fruit Loops mixed with Cheerios in a perfect 1:1:1 ratio, with extra Independent coffee on the side. This red, white, and blue breakfast is intentionally light, to prep for the vast amounts of grilled meats to follow.
After finishing off my Fourth Loops (or ‘MURICA O’s), I spend no less than 30 minutes mentally preparing for the day by listening to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA on repeat in my star spangled boxer briefs. When Lee hits the line “‘Cause at least I know I’m free” I sing it at the top of my lungs right at my pet fish Vladimir Bluefin (Commie bastard). Later I feel bad for ridiculing Vlad, and help him defect by releasing him in the Gowanus Canal. He immediately dies from the highly-toxic environment, but I remind myself that at least I know he’s free (thanks Lee).
Upon checking the weather report, I realize that it won’t be conducive to wearing my full-on George Washington costume, so I settle on jeans shorts (not cut-off, that’s hippie garb. I’m talking pre-fab Wranglers), a star-spangled bandana, and a sleeveless t-shirt that has this on it:
I head over to the animal trainer to see if the eagle I rented is ready. Sadly, the animal trainer stands firm that the eagle is not allowed to wear the Abe Lincoln costume I fashioned out of construction paper. I object, but an Abe-less eagle is still better than no eagle. The sacrifices I make for my country know no bounds.
Eagle and (slightly illegal) fireworks in tow, I go over to my friend’s place, where we’ve all agreed to gather. I start drinking Budweisers (not Bud Light, ‘cause I’m not American Light). It tastes as terrible as it normally does, but it’s still the most symbolically American thing I can drink. The irony that this is, in fact, now a Belgian beer does not go unnoticed, but I overpower this fact by infusing the beer with my American Pride.
Having brought one of the several DVD copies I own, we pop in Independence Day. This is a must-watch not only ‘cause it’s actually Independence Day, or because it’s a great movie, or even because it’s an acting tour de force, but because it’s one big giant metaphor for how we beat those dirty English aliens to become the great nation we are, with nothing but a computer virus, Will Smith, and Jeff Goldblum. When Bill Pullman gives his famous speech, I stand up and recite it with him, followed by high-fives and a chest bump with my roommate Paul. I am almost able to retain my footing during the chest bump, and as Paul helps me back on my feet I tell myself next year I’ll be in chest-bump shape.
To refuel from the massive amounts of energy I spent in national pride, I have cupcakes with red and blue sprinkles baked throughout. This allows me to get dessert out of the way early, and much like the light breakfast, allows for more meat later on.
Finally, the moment is here. My friend Jordan has already prepped the grill. It is at optimal temperature, and soon the succulent sizzle and smell of grilled meats fill our world. I pop off a couple of semi-illegal bottle rockets, which startles George-Abraham Independence the 4th (the eagle), who promptly flies off, presumably to do something patriotic somewhere (there goes my deposit). My friends ask me why I didn’t tie him to his perch, to which I reply “‘Cause he’s American, which means he’s free!” To prove this point, I start singing “God Bless the USA,” but my friends quickly stop me by shoving a plate full of grilled meats in my face.
I spend the next indeterminate amount of time stuffing my face with cheeseburgers, hot dogs, brats, steaks, and BBQ chicken. I’m unsure of the actual time this took because at this point I have blacked out on hickory smoke and grill marks. Thankfully I’m wearing the type of jeans shorts that have expandable waists (stylish AND functional).
To close out the night, we head to the roof to watch the fireworks. 4th of July fireworks are simply perfect. Not only do they really take you back to the time when Francis Scott Key saw America’s first fireworks display and was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner (what, like you know the backstory of that song?), but it’s also a great way to signal the end of a day filled with festivities. Plus they generally start around 9pm, so I don’t actually stay out all that late. It’s essentially as if America is telling me that I did my country proud and I should probably go home before I embarrass myself. Well, more than I usually do when I’m not given a clear signal to go home at 9pm.
I head home and lay down to have meat-induced fever dreams about Lee Greenwood riding an eagle while George Washington himself slow-claps in approval. 4th of July success, achieved.
*Why did R. ever release the original Ignition? I’m not saying it’s bad, but sing a line from the original Ignition song. Exactly.
Image credit: Funnyjunk.com