Freedom! Independence! It all came true on that fourth day of July, 1776, so long as you were a white male and/or wealthy. It was sort of a crapshoot in those days, I guess. Anyway, it was on that July 4 that our forefathers declared America’s independence from that pesky, old, dreadful King of England. I went to London and ordered a bacon cheeseburger, only to get Canadian “bacon.” That episode left me scarred for life, so, I can see why Thomas Jefferson wasn’t so hot on King George and started a revolution.
What grew out of that conflict is a story about cheeseburgers and bacon (the real kind made from pork bellies, not some god damn little piece of ham!). Of course, it’s also a story about tea parties, westward expansion and slavery. It’s even about being No. 1 and chanting, “USA!” This is our story, and the Fourth of July is our day to celebrate and remember what this country has done over the past 238 years. It’s a time to reflect upon exactly what it is that defines us as Americans.
With at least two full-time cooking channels and more food-focused TV shows than I care to remember, it’s clear that we like to eat. As the inventor of the hamburger, we obviously have burgers on the brain and in our guts. What’s a burger without a bucket of fries? Let’s add a half-gallon of soda to it and call it a meal! Maybe eating 60 hot dogs in 10 minutes is more your style; or perhaps you prefer sandwiches larger than your feet? We enjoy all of these things, unabashedly. America is hooked on fat.
When we aren’t filling ourselves with food, we are shopping; we do live in a capitalist society, after all. Fortunately for capitalism, Americans like to buy a lot of crap. It might be some shitty jewelry or a set of swords off QVC that we just have to have. We also love huge trucks that we have no use for and boats and RVs we can’t afford. There are plenty of us with house payments and bills we can’t pay, but that doesn’t seem to slow us down too much. In America, the perception of success is more important than the reality of it.
Not everything we do is for show, though. Sometimes when Americans shop we buy a gun(s). There are some who would argue that America and guns are inseparable. Now, I’m not opposed to the idea of having them, but we seem to be obsessed with the damn things. We shoot at cans, bottles, paper targets, clay pigeons, animals, fruit, cars, houses, buildings, the sky, people (both terrorists and the regular kind) and, sometimes, lots of people. Give an American a gun and a thing, and we will kill that thing or die trying.
I’m not sure if it’s an equal chance of death on either side, but then again, we like to use the word “equal” pretty loosely in America. Equality originally allowed for slavery, racism, sexism, classism and other miscellaneous discriminations to exist. Thankfully slavery has been abolished here, but we continue to struggle with the other inequalities. The people that believe otherwise are part of the problem. In America, things are only equal if you are getting what you want.
Our feigned equality only applies to other Americans. We have no qualms telling other countries that we are better than them. We say that our military is stronger, our businesses are richer, our education system is better and both our old and new healthcare systems are the best! The list of ways in which we are great just doesn’t stop! That might be because we think we are good at math, but we aren’t. We also kind of suck at science now, too. Fortunately, studies show that Americans are the best at thinking we are better than everyone else, so there’s that. USA! USA! USA!
Eventually, and sometimes in a spectacular fashion, we find out we aren’t the best at something. It can really hurt when it happens, but hopefully, we can laugh about it afterward. We might end up sucking at a lot of things, or being fat, materialistic, gun-crazed people, but at least Americans can laugh at themselves. Americans are funny like that. Hopefully you get a chance to laugh with/at your friends and family while you celebrate your country’s birthday this July 4. It’s what Thomas Jefferson would have wanted, after all.