“Fourth of July.”
Just hearing the words is panicking. It’s the semi-sorta midway point of summer. “Whaddyou mean it’s half gone!? How did this happen?! Did Madoff take it?!” It’s like discovering someone poked a hole in your fun bucket.
Luckily, Fourth of July was designed to replenish. It’s The Complete Works of Summer, performed in a single afternoon. It’s the world’s greatest cookout, and it is pandemonium.
Today we’ll spray bottles of sunblock as if they’re Champagne and we just won the World Series. We’ll bake old-timey pies even though Iron Chef has us “going through a salted caramel-and-cloudberry sabayon phase.” Today grandma will make blue cupcakes that look like Smurf condos, and we will not recoil at their inedible hue.
If today we see Uncle Sam rollerblading in a Speedo, we won’t hide our children. We will raise Uncle Ned’s lumpy burger in salute.
Today, our USA-sized smoke signal will penetrate deep into space. If extra terrestrials exist, they will seek out our delicious creations. Or they will go to France because they think we are on fire.
Today, we’ll eat half our national population in hot dogs. On Independence Day, dogs aren’t just a distraction from the fact that “pitchers’ duel” is baseball speak for “group nap.” Today the pig torpedo is patriotic Eucharist.
Today, our mouths all have one thing in common: Idaho. And today “salad” has mayonnaise, amen.
Today, we’ll find the few patches of America that don’t have a cappuccino machine and a barista with a tattoo on his face. It might be a beach, park, lake, river, glen, dale, or a strip of Astroturf next to a garden hose. Matters not. We’ll gather our people, grab the crowbar, pry open the grill and not flinch one bit at the sight of last year’s charred bits. (When grilling, the Five Second Rule becomes the Five Year Rule. I believe Thomas Jefferson wrote that.)
We’ll wear our humorous aprons. We will not question the nutritional content of white bread. We will Lee Greenwood (so patriotic, his name is a verb). We will not discuss how “the acidity of the lemonade really balances out the fattiness of the hot dog.” We will eat, drink, and toast the brave ones who sacrificed so that we can dress like Liberace cross-dressing as Betsy Ross.
Whether vegetarian or carnivore, carb-shoveler or gluten-freer, beer-toter or teetotaler, CIA super-chef or kitchen-phobe… Today we’re just Americans, hungry for the smoke of summer.
STAT: 82% of US households own a grill. 4th of July is the most popular day to use them, with 71% of us assuming the grill position. It’s a day to remember our roots. Like 1776, sure. But also the simian age. Short of waking up an orangutan and ending the day as Brad Pitt, nothing says “Evolution, heck yeah!” quite like cooking over fire.
SOURCE: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association and Business News Daily
STAT: Kids who regularly eat dinner with their families are 40% likelier to get A’s and B’s in school. Fourth of July brings family together—from distant relatives to the siblings you tried to sell on eBay. And that bonding experience will help our children get into colleges we can’t afford.
SOURCE: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
STAT: The US imported $232.3 million of fireworks from China in 2011. Say what? Part of being an American is making all kinds of lame laws. Seems like “the national flag must be made in America” should be one. But what a way to end a meal! Most just finish with someone asking you for money, or with dad staggering to the couch like a freshly tranquilized zoo animal.
SOURCE: US Census Bureau News
STAT: Americans eat 155 million hot dogs on Fourth of July. If placed end-to-end, the dogs would stretch from L.A. to D.C. five times. It’s the national sharing stick. It’s also pre-cooked. If anyone can figure out how to use a grill like a microwave, America can.
SOURCE: National Hot Dog & Sausage Council
STAT: 42% of Americans are country music fans. The other 58% tolerate it on Fourth of July. Are you a twangy singer who lists “petting bald eagles” as a personal interest? Today, America loves you. (Except maybe Portland.)
SOURCE: Billboard Magazine
STAT: 86 million Americans (41.9% of us) own patriotic apparel. American flag bikini? Next week it’s vaguely treasonous. But on Fourth of July it’s OK to wear stars, spangles or Bruce Springsteen’s clenched, patriotic teeth on your person.
SOURCE: National Retail Federation
STAT: Americans bought nearly $14 Billion worth of jeans last year. Most of them will be worn today. The only dress code for a park is “clothes.” Jeans are not “apparel” today. They are leg napkins.
SOURCE: Cotton Lifestyle Monitor