Happy 4th of July, my darlings in the United States! To the rest of the world – Happy 4th of July – why not, right? You have it on your calendar too, don’t you? Have a drink on us. Hell, have several.
The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. From what do you plan to declare your independence today? Me? I plan to make myself independent of my sobriety. What makes that different from any other day, you ask? Well at least the sparklers won’t look out of place now.
I love a good parade so I assume I shall track down one of those; they are not too hard to come by. If you don’t have marching bands trumpeting down your main street, I find that if you waltz into someone’s house unannounced banging trash can lids together, you can get a few folks to follow you and before you know it, you have your police escort. The parade route always leads back to Place de Plume, whether it had been mapped to do so or not. The neighbors can get a bit uppity about having a giant tow truck wrapped in crepe paper in the shape of Wild Bill Cody parked on their lawn but I find that good pie heals all wounds. It can make a few too, especially if launched at unsuspecting passers-by from the bush in which you are hiding – merely a suggestion, mes chères.
I believe what we are truly celebrating today is our ability to randomly assign meaning to things. Why the 4th of July? Because that was the day that our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence and we declared our independence from England. Only we declared it, not the English from whom we were separating. I believe they thought we’d be back around once we figured out we couldn’t get a proper cup of tea from that stupid harbor. And it wasn’t signed on the 4th of July; it was recognized by Congress on that date but it was signed on 9 July… and 2 August and then again some time later. This going to absolutely shatter you, but the folks in power at the time could not come to an agreement on the DOI; you see, the US government not coming together on a matter of policy is merely tradition. New York held out and then a schoolteacher must of seen the slap dash job they did on the first one so the gang had to rewrite the whole thing properly and when all was said and done we had a nice, shiny, signed document; we just don’t know when. But then John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day and that seemed to cement 4 July as the day to celebrate all things USA.
Flag waving is common, only not the same flag. Many like the current one that has all the 50 states represented, but some think it’s more traditional to raise Betsy Ross’ effort with the ring of 13. Only, in 1870, when the 4th of July was declared a holiday by Congress (I assume New York dissented again, just for the hell of it, ) there were 37 states so would that be more accurate? Some like to march under the flag of the Confederacy because it shows their pride of their independent spirit. Unfortunately, it is also a pretty prominent symbol of treason against the United States government among other tragic occurrences but gosh, its so festive. Other people like to wear their pride on their chests – a nice big flag emblazoned across their shirt. Only the guidelines for the Flag of the United States of America clearly states “The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose, nor embroidered on cushions or handkerchiefs, printed on paper napkins or boxes, nor used as any portion of a costume.” You see – random; is it a blatant show of your patriotic pride or a show of disrespect against the very flag you are celebrating? I suppose it depends on whether the person displaying it is wearing a bikini or not.
Of course there is our country’s song that can rally us together. But it’s so hard to sing so we merely select the song that our high school band learned to play.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I love this holiday, as did my beloved Rémy . Nobody got more excited about draping himself in a version of Red, White and Blue and storming through the streets on his bicycle shouting “Vive la liberté!” as I clung to the handlebars for dear life. Our neighbors would flock to their gates and respond with “Oh vive, Rémy – yes do vive.” We would stop at each house, extract the small box from the bike’s basket holding cut crystal glasses and cognac and toast to freedom, whatever that meant to anyone. It didn’t matter if you spoke English, Rémy ’s Frenglish, or your own language, whether you came from a moneyed class or made your own way, whether you loved literature or watching cars race; we were all one, celebrating the randomness of our coming together, forming this lovely little place in the best way we knew how.
So do toast your independence today – independence from whatever shackles you. Stand atop your accomplishments and feel the pride you have earned by getting there. All I ask, as you pick and choose your customs and symbols, is that you take a moment to cast a glance to your neighbor. Are they able to stand as tall as you? Are those two men next door allowed to love as openly as you? Is that woman across the street draped in a blanket because any crime committed against her is ultimately blamed on her? Do the folks on the corner with the accent share the comforts this great land have to offer?
Remember that randomness is only fun if it is not thrust upon you.
My point is, darlings, enjoy your freedom to be who you are.