Oh, God, seriously you guys.
Have you ever had a good Fourth of July? I’ve never had a good Fourth of July. I think it’s almost impossible to have a good Fourth of July unless you’re the kind of person who just loves grilling things to an ungodly extent. Frankly, if you’re the sort of person who thinks, “My definition of happiness is meat products that are charred on the outside and absolutely raw on the inside” then you’ll probably love The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and you’ll love the Fourth of July, too.
Why does it have to be so awful? I have absolutely no objection to the premise behind the Fourth of July. It’s nice that we have a day that celebrates that once, a long time ago, America won a war and became the kind of country that could shoot off sparkly, ostentatious sparklers into the sky. I think we’re all pretty proud of that, or we should be.
Though I hate fireworks. I mean, I really do. I do not understand why displays of fireworks have to go on so long. I think I’d be fine if firework displays were essentially five minute affairs – or even three minute affairs – and we just sort of proved that, yes, we could shoot them into the sky. Instead they go on for 20 minutes as though we’re trying to impregnate the ether. Does no one else get bored? We’re a video game generation, and it’s essentially just sparkly lights in the sky for 20 minutes, which is to say, an eternity. You probably think I’m just a callous human being, but look at teenagers at any beach where Fourth of July fireworks are being set off. I will bet you good solid money that they cannot make it through the spectacle without checking their iPhones.
Fireworks are boring. Any screen scaver you have ever owned does more interesting stuff. It displays an exctiing underwater world with squids and stuff. Fireworks are only exciting when they play on the backdrop of your computer after you win a round of Spider Solitaire, and, even then, they’re only really exciting to your mom.
Okay, they’re exciting to you, too, but Spider Solitaire is a really hard game.
So, what else is there to the Fourth of July? Well, that’s really the tricky question. If you don’t love fireworks you’re… screwed, pretty much. Fireworks are the whole holiday’s main attraction. And the thing is, you’re probably going to have to watch fireworks with some fairly peripheral friends.
The Fourth of July isn’t like Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or any of the holidays that offer you an excuse to reunite with your family. No one really takes the Fourth of July off to go and see their loved ones, unless their loved ones have a beach house and are within driving distance. So, frankly, there are going to be a lot of years where you are at your uncle’s beach house – which is within driving distance - trying to make awkward conversation while watching fireworks with a bunch of people that you know only in the vaguest sense.
Or, much more likely, you’re wherever you happen to live, barbequing with the motley collection of friends who have not fled for their uncle’s nearby beach houses. I don’t want to spoil things for you, but the barbeque at those parties? The barbeque is going going to be terrible.
I think there is a point in life where everyone learns how to grill things, but, honestly, I think it’s later than this point.
And the weirdest thing is that there is no escape. You can’t actually just decide to opt out of the Fourth of July as some people choose to opt out of, say, Thanksgiving, because there will be tangible proof that the holiday is occurring. Even if you stay locked inside your own home, you are going to hear the fireworks going off, like cannons in the distance. It is going to be absolutely, completely, 100% unavoidable. And if you are opting to sit inside your house eating pie, like a normal American, the sound of fireworks is going to make your feel terribly guilty about even trying to opt out. People talk about how the holidays are lonely for people around wintertime, well, the holidays are also lonely for people around the Fourth if you are not the kind of person who has a beach house to flee to. Except that you will remember that it’s happening more.
Oh, fuck it. I’m having a party. There’ll be a cheese plate, and some artitsanal chocolates, and no attempt to grill anything. There will be no watching of fireworks. Fireworks are dumb. Okay, maybe we can watch them for five minutes out the window, but no more. Who’s in?
Picture via Getty