When you are young, the 4th of July seems the weakest of holidays. There is no boredom quite like that felt watching your pops stoically tend the grill, followed by a night lounging on a blanket next to your mom waiting for the ever-delayed fireworks. No presents. No candy. You're already out of school, so that's no draw. What kind of shit is this?
At the end of the day, you light shit on fire so that the shit will explode.
Amazing shit, it turns out. One of the sure signs of adulthood is coming to the realization that the 4th of July doesn't have to be terrible. This is a holiday for the American people, the public. And that means public drunkenness, public nudity, and public urination. And excepting your one vegan friend, the booze-fueled hijinks are complemented by charred meat with a side of charred meat over a bed of charred meat. At the end of the day, you light shit on fire so that the shit will explode.
So often, however, we find ourselves overwhelmed with patriotic joy, and it makes us do things we regret. No matter how luke-warm your nationalism, that fifteenth Pabst Blue Ribbon can send you into a jingoistic rampage. Whether this is your first time admitting you might have feelings for the flag, or if you’ve spent years loving America so hard, your country has issued a restraining order, we have words for you. Help us, the US, help you celebrate the 4th without acting a fool and embarrassing Uncle Sam and your (legitimate and illegitimate) founding fathers.
- When in America, Dress as the Americans – People, put down your Givenchy Rottweiler Ts and your Yeezys—this is America’s birthday. Your top should be emblazoned with the stars and stripes. Your shorts—not pants—should be cut-offs. Your hat should boast a bald eagle holding a can of PBR in either claw with Old Glory and Mt. Rushmore in the background… or whatever fashion makes possible. No exceptions.
- Leave Your Music Snobbery at the Door – You need to understand that you are not going to hear what you want today. You are going to hear, on repeat, the same ten songs you have heard every 4th since you were born (you born white in a rural area, yes?) and will hear every year until you pass into the Great Beyond, and miniature American flags and red, white, and blue carnations are laid on your grave. If you don’t like country music, I don’t give a damn. Take off your hat and pay respect when you hear "God Bless the U.S.A.," "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," "Beer for My Horses," and the other unofficial National Anthems. Listen, y’all, I’m suffering to: This is the one day of the year I tolerate Bruce Springsteen. I am a real hero.
- Use Illegal Fireworks Responsibly – If you weren’t born in Alabama, or a place similar, by the grace of God, you are going to have to struggle to get your hands on illegal fireworks. Sparklers are for children. When you do secure those bitchin’ fireworks, take a page out of my uncle’s book. When I was a kid, we were on vacation at the beach and Uncle Scott shot some fireworks straight into the (federally protected) sand dunes and set them ablaze. Until the fire department arrived, he tried his best to put the fire out himself with buckets of water and Super Soakers. He, also, is a real hero.
- Leave the Ladies Alone…Until the Fireworks – I know you’ll be drunk, both on booze and country love, but the ladies, they’re patriots too. No matter how bad she may look in that bikini top and those daisy dukes, let her have her fun without the shirtless, face-painted, sunburnt dude drooling in her beer. Play it cool, and once the local fireworks show has kicked off, you two can neck to Neil Diamond’s “America.” For those keeping track at home, Neil Diamond (and his sparkly, patriotic jumpsuit) is also a real hero.
- Pour One Out for the Troops Even if You're a Godless Hippie 364 Days a Year – I don’t care about your thoughts on foreign policy ever, let alone today. Save your big ideas for cardboard signs with puns about sub-prime mortgages, and drink a beer for the troops today. Shout out to SGT Joseph J. Jackson, of the 82nd Airborne Division, and 1LT Kevin Riley, of Security Forces Assistance Team 41, my college roommates, both serving in Afghanistan. These guys are real real heroes.
That should be enough to you started. Get out there and love your country. Just don’t love it too hard—remember what happened last year?
by Brenden Gallagher (@muddycreekU)