Hey everybody. You know all that anxiety that’s been building up? Well, just let it go and relax now, because the Fourth of July is here. The Great American Holiday. The one with the noise and the colors and the hot. Now, it is summer. That’s what the Fourth is. Not just the day we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the best country in the history of the world but also the heart of the season of light.
No matter what the astronomers tell us, it’s not the solstice that signifies the beginning of our season of mayhem. Not in America. Its 7/4, thirteen days later, when kids run amuck while parents drink beer out of cans and fall off of patio furniture. When families squeeze into minivans and travel long distances to get into fights over the logistics of eating fries at Mickey D’s and burgers at the King.
It’s when the senses are heightened. The smell of cut grass, the grip of a pair of sneakers, the sound of children playing volleyball on the beach, the tickle of butter from a roasted cob of corn dripping all the way down your arm to the elbow. The thunk of a Frisbee on the back of the head. The piercing cry of a loved one as they discover sand in the bed.
It’s a holiday that transcends normal political persuasions; a frozen moment in time when white wine sipping, NPR listening, Prius driving, Birkenstock wearing hippies stand shoulder to shoulder with country western listening, pickup truck driving, cowboy boot wearing, Coors Lite chugging rednecks, both groups clutching tiny American flags in a small town square watching a parade of bicycles with red, white and blue bunting woven through the spokes.
It’s beauty queens waving from the back seats of convertibles. And kids swinging on a tire tied to a tree over the bank of a pond. Slip and slides. Burnt marshmallows. Not getting dark until nine. It’s people deciding that any piece of clothing they can squeeze into, fits.
It’s the loudest holiday as well with marching bands and fireworks and the sizzle of burger fat dripping on the coals. The tinny mantra of a baseball game on an AM radio, wafting down from a porch. Motorcycles revving down the highway in packs. Politicians barking new promises through old bullhorns.
Have yourself one heck of a terrific summer and make it last. Swim and swing and swoon. Take long walks on unfamiliar paths. Buy a new chaise lounge. Watch or better yet, play a game of slow pitch softball. Char some flesh, either animal or your own or both.
Make sure you find time for a little bit of fun, because it won’t be long before we’re back at each other’s throats. You know, like Thursday the 5th. The same day the back-to-school sales start and all the sports channels start promoting football.
And have a happy birthday America, you great-looking country, you. May be going through a tough patch here. But you know what they say; tough times never last, but tough countries do. And you probably hear this a lot but you still look pretty good considering you’re 242 years old. Could use a little work around the eyes. Then again, couldn’t we all.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin.