I admit when I was a kid, the Fourth of July was cool. I associated the holiday with colorful fireworks, cold beer, sitting on the lawn with blankets, making out with girlfriends if I had one, or trying to hook-up with someone new and fairly cute if I didn’t. Growing up in a suburb of Chicago in the 1950’s and 60’s it was all about America, Uncle Sam, barbecues, swimming pools and warm but not too steamy summer nights. Somehow I also remember a lot of ice cream, popsicles, and, as a teenager, sneaking away to smoke a joint with friends to really see and “feel” the fireworks. Plain and simple I enjoyed it.
Now, as an adult, and particularly as a Baby Boomer with grown up kids I despise the whole idea and loath the very thought of shlepping to some crowded parking lot in traffic (welcome to Atlanta) in 100 degree heat (hey, it’s cooling down a bit, it’s 98) to watch the same stupid thing all over again. I dont want to seem crabby and overemotional. I’ve got reasons. Here are five good reasons to hate the Fourth of July. Listen up young people. I read all your lame hipster articles and techno nerd digital diatribes. In fact I would respond more often to your self-congratulatory “aren’t we young and hip/fly” acronym infested articles but I always have trouble typing in the CAPTCHA codes correctly. I’m not a fucking cryptographer. Some of us have mild learning disorders and vision problems you age-ist pricks! Now it’s my cantankerous turn:
1) Most of the firework displays suck shit. If you live in Iowa or Idaho or Wyoming or anywhere except three or four big cities, the so called “colorful holiday festivities” are lame. It takes you longer to drive to the show then the shows themselves, which are usually held in large open spaces like state fairgrounds or minor league stadiums with crappy crowded urinals and concrete bunker restrooms that smell exactly how you would expect; like beer, barf and urine. If you are lucky enough to live in a big city that can afford a decent firework display like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or Boston, the shows are respectable and there might even be good music that seems to accompany the light show (they really dont, it’s all in your head, stupid) but by the time it’s over in less then an hour, you still have to file out of some overcrowded place like shell-shocked cowboys caught in a cattle stampede. The chances of getting to your car with the same set of occupants you arrived with is low to nil. Losing a child in a crowd of potential child molesters and teenagers violently high on Spice and cheap gin can really strain a marriage.
2) The whole premise of the Fourth of July is a lie and some kind of government conspiracy. Stop worrying about 9/11, idiot. Those were real terrorists and real planes plowing into real buildings. It really happened. While you are poring over footage of the Apollo Moon Landing looking for “inconsistencies” and watching Oliver Stone’s paranoid fantasies about who really shot JFK (who really cares, he’s completely dead whether it was “down and to the right or not”) there is a yearly historical inaccuracy and blatant mythology called July 4th being sold to you, and you like a dumb shmuck are buying it wholesale like cheap Chinese fabrics for three times the price. Sure some rich white guys signed some Declaration of Independence document on July 4th, 1776, but it took them until 1783 to actually get the British to stop shooting them full of cannonballs and musket shells. More important, only the rich white guys ended up feeling relatively free or “independent “. Just go ask any 18th century or even 19th century woman, black person, Native American or anyone who didnt have a hundred slaves around to bake their sour dough bread or pour them a glass of cold beer. Plus, they didnt even have refrigerators to keep it all icy cold until around 1940. Kind of throws a little piss on the parade to think about warm ale and not so happy slaves on let’s say… July 4th, 1830, doesn’t it??
3) Once kids are taken out of the whole Norman Rockwell family picture, the 4th of July is a sensory nightmare and a ecological disgrace. Remember the recent stories about flocks of birds having their senses disrupted by airplanes and fireworks and subsequently flying into barns like a squadron of drunk Kamikazi pilots? Yeah, for some strange reason nature doesn’t exactly see the 4th of July and massive firework displays as “natural” or even something to celebrate. It messes them up like submarine sonar screws up the whales and dolphin’s built in GPS-like sonar. How would you like it if every time you began to turn left in your fancy little sports car your (obnoxious) voice activated video monitor and iphone GPS app kept repeating, “Recalculating…..turn left in 3456.7 miles??” Or, “In 3.2 miles crash directly into large red barn with blinking neon beer sign”…… Yeah, that’s right. You would hate it and especially hate the fact you have to call your dweeb insurance agent at midnight on July 5th when you know he’s doing 151 rum jello shots at his next door neighbors house party. Somehow they are never really like the sweet guys and gals that play them on the State Farm and Progressive Insurance TV commercials. Sorry, that’s not covered Family Guy……By the way, while we’re talking carbon foot print nightmares and eco-Armageddon, did you ever notice how much paper and garbage and random debris is left after a night of 4th of July revelry? The tidy subdivision looks more like Baghdad after our “shock and awe” campaign then the safe little suburban enclave you cashed out your 401K to barely afford. It’s not unusual to see a neighbors nice cedar shake roof covered with a tarp because little Tommy the 13 year old kid with ADHD thought it was a great idea to strap all the bottle rockets together and light it with a home-made flame thrower. Which brings me to #4.
4) Have you figured out that July 4th is dangerous? How fun is it to take your 9 year old son or daughter, now missing half their thumb to the local hospital emergency room which doubles as a homeless shelter for the 365 days a year drunks and drug addicts that live around you? The chances of getting quality medical treatment in the middle of the night at the ER and leaving the next morning with money and WITHOUT a newly acquired MERSA infection is, well, impossible to calculate. Plus, I’d like to see all you tech wizards out there text each other without a thumb! Dont blame me if you think its fun to shoot off home=made fireworks you acquired on your last road trip to Alabama at a place called “Annies Arsenal”. If you see them in the back of the barn eating barbecue with one hand and stuffing gunpowder and fuses into spray painted cardboard toilet paper rolls with the other, I’d say it’s a bad sign. All in all, cant we agree that fire, explosions, drought, famine, napalm and rampant forest fires currently consuming half of the nation’s National Parks suggest we might want to curb the stunning light shows sponsored by Big Pharma? You want to see a light show right now? Fly to Colorado. Watch Colorado Springs burn down as we speak. Also, if the bears in Yellowstone are in fact learning to carry barbecue skewers and lighter fluid as recently reported, this suggests dangerous conditions for all species involved.
5) Of course I could give you 10 reasons but apparently the attention span of the average reader is now 3 nano seconds, so I’ll just do one more. Be honest. Be real. What we need in this world right now is NOT more noise, more air pollution, more screaming and yelling, but rather more calm and something you twits have completely forgotten, silence. The older I get, the more I just want everyone, including the TV announcers, politicians and every bipedal mammal on the planet to shut the hell up. When Americans think to celebrate and show reverence, they just get louder, not quieter. Have you ever heard people talking during the Star Spangled Banner at the ballgame? Sure you have, at least a quarter of you morons wont ever turn off your iPhones, stop texting or shut the fuck up…ever. Allow me to repeat. We dont need another loud, booming, ear splitting holiday. We dont need to be blinded by intense phosphorus shells with toxic colored plumes of acrid smoke and ash. Our kids dont need any more stimulation any more then you need to go order a triple expresso at Starbucks after chugging a jumbo sized Monster energy drink or two. Most of you young people walk around like Red Bull, crack-Adderall addicts with a 24/7 Jones for heavy metal and sensory motor stimulation. Honestly, I want to blow up the cars with loud rap music playing at red lights. You all need to mellow the fuck out and teach the kids to do the same. Instead of July 4th, take a yoga class, listen to a relaxation tape, and stay away from low flying flocks of birds. Your kids will thank you someday and as for Uncle Sam, I really think he is way more into April 15th anyway.
Cliff Mazer Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and humorist who lives and works in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He has a thing for Pirates and other people with ADD. He blogs fairly anonymously on Facebook and WordPress at https://captaincliff.wordpress.com/ Contact: 404-932-7193