Although I'm rapidly closing in on 30, tomorrow will only be my third Fourth of July.
Let me explain. My family fled Cuba in 1959, planning to wait out the whole pesky revolution thing with a vacay in NYC, and then head back to Havana within the month. Well, things have been delayed a bit, and that asshole Kennedy didn't help by screwing up the Bay of Pigs. So we abstain from celebrating any strictly American holidays, like Memorial Day and Christmas, since this isn't our permanent home anyway.
No, no. I'm just kidding.
Let me explain. My family is really religious. In our house, we only ever vote to ratify one constitution: God's law. The Fourth of July represents another attempt by Satan to take our eyes off of the prize with the false idols of flags and fireworks. A Declaration of Independence from God. No way! We save our fireworks for Easter, and by fireworks I mean prayer.
Let me explain. My family is really patriotic. As good patriots, we recognize the importance of the Declaration of Independence. We love to celebrate Independence Day. Only we also know that document didn't count for shit until it was signed, and this happened in August, not July. So we do it up on the Second of August. On Saturday we'll do a small family dinner in honor of Ratification Day, but our parade float won't roll until 8/2/2009.
Ok, forget it. Two lies and a lie.
I'm not going to say why I'd never celebrated Independence Day until 2007, but it's true.
I wondered about it over the years. Was it more like Christmas or Halloween? Are there presents? Costumes? Is there a 4th of July food, like turkey on Thanksgiving? Or do we fast? Oh, and do I need to dry-clean my Confederate army uniform? It's still dirty from Stonewall Jackson Day.
As it turns out, 4th of July hardly resembles Christmas, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. More than anything, it's a St. Patty's or Cinco de Mayo, but American. A drinking holiday, decorated with fireworks and pithy expressions of patriotism. Like New Years Eve, the 4th also appears to be a sort of amateur night of alcohol consumption; a lot of folks imbibe more than usual and then vomit, burn something down, or crash their pontoon boats. Optional accoutrements include watermelon, grilled foods, a Stars & Stripes cake, slalom skiing, and sparklers for the kids. There may be a parade, and one of the floats may consist of a pick up truck full of drunks.
I'm all for it. Shit, I'm thankful for it. USA! If I'd known what I was missing all those years I'd have come out of hiding way sooner. A day off work would have been nice too, but I guess the calendars didn't cooperate this year.
Come Saturday, I'm gonna do it up. I'm lifting my ban on canned domestic macrobrews and cracking open a Bud Heavy (forget the Belgian owners, the colors on this beer can don't run). Hell, I plan on drinking one for each of the thirteen colonies. The fireworks will fly, parades will roll by, and my red, white, & blue swimming trunks will turn greenish-brown with mustard and relish. Just steer clear of my pontoon boat.