In past years, this day has received little notice from me, as well; being, as it is, a work day, I traditionally find myself in the office, on the road or otherwise in a position not conducive to celebration, causing this most American of days to suffer more than its fair share of neglect. This year, however, I was able to do something about it:
On the day—that is to say, last night—the stars aligned and I found myself home at a relatively early hour, with the shops still open and my wife out for the evening (leaving me without adult supervision). So I nipped into town where I bought the makings of a barbeque (a minimalist barbeque, at any rate) and a few sparklers.
Now, I have seen disposable barbeques before, but up to this point I had never attempted to light one, nor had I enjoyed the opportunity to cook on one as it sat in the middle of my postage-stamp sized balcony. Sadly, I never did discover the delights of preparing burgers on a tinfoil packet filled with smoldering charcoal because the only advantage the disposable barbeque provided was to fill the sitting room with smoke, thereby giving it an authentic 4th-of-July-picnic aroma. The charcoal may have smoldered, but it never got hot, so I ended up cooking the burgers and hot dogs on the stove and dousing the disposable smoke-machine with water before the neighbors decided to call the fire brigade.
Complete and utter rubbish
And so, after only minor inconvenience and suffering an acceptable level of smoke-inhalation, I dined on a 4th of July-type dinner: a double cheese burger, a hot dog on a roll, some really awful pre-made potato salad and a small packet of crisps (that's potato chips to you over in the Land of the Free).
I have to admit feeling a bit disconnected from my homeland these days. With a decade of living in Britain under my belt, I find I know more about European politics than the upcoming presidential race, and in any practical sense—such as knowing the price of a pint of milk (come to think of it, I don't know the price of a pint of milk here, either), how you are paid (direct debit, check, barter), what the current cell-phone coverage is like (when I lived there, it was rubbish) or how many people are left to die in the street because they don't have health coverage (well, that's what I heard)—I have no idea what you are up to over there. But I am still an American, and because of that, when the 4th of July rolls around, my DNA longs for hot dogs and burgers, potato salad and a warm summer night filled with fireworks and Lee Greenwood belting out "Proud to be an American" from the boom box sitting on the tailgate of uncle Bert’s pickup truck.
Well, I managed the hot dog and burger, and almost enjoyed the potato salad. I couldn't conjure up a warm summer night (it was 50 degrees and drizzling) and I didn't have any fireworks, but I did have some sparklers.
"Proud to be an American..."
My only regret is that I didn't look up old Lee on YouTube and blare my laptop on the balcony as loud as the speakers would go before distortion set in. I suppose that's just as well; like the store-bought potato salad, it might have just proved a disappointment. Sometimes, nothing short of the real thing will do.
C'mon, sing along!