WHEN I WAS A KID, back before there were girls named Justin, when the only drugs athletes took were coke and LSD, when being an American meant gettin’ laid and gettin’ paid, the Fourth of July was the biggest celebration of the year. Neighborhood BBQs, pool parties, sandlot baseball, light beer, and apple pie ruled a day that begun in earnest and ended in a fireworks display that had the budget of many Third World countries. Then we would put the kids to bed, get good and drunk on whiskey and righteousness, and argue about which of those Third World countries we should bomb next. Ah, the memories.
Then, it all seemed to change. The BBQs and neighborhoods got smaller and more insulated. The pools got folded in, too expensive to fill because water is sacred. The sandlots became Costcos. The light beer became mojitos. The apple pie became gluten-free. The fireworks were no more than a few Molotov cocktails tossed at an old Buick. Then, about a decade back, the aliens invaded and we almost lost our Independence Day altogether.
But, we’ve never quite recovered the Fourths of yore. It seems to me, that we, as a nation, Americans have forgotten what the day means. It’s not about the Red, White, and Blue. It’s not about taking oil and leaving KFCs behind. It’s not about baseball, and country music, and eight year-old beauty queens. It’s about not being a damned Brit.
Consider, as Headshots has, a few reasons to celebrate on this Fourth of July, the fact that we’re not British.
Have you ever seen a Brit crack a smile? It’s like they brush their teeth with coffee and marmalade, and then rinse with turned chocolate milk and whole wheat flour, before smoking a carton of unfiltered Parliaments. There are only three Brits in the world with good teeth: The Queen (by necessity), David Beckham Posh Spice (they are one person, and it lives in LA, so they have to have nice pearly whites), and a guy from Liverpool named Ashley who just got lucky.
I mean, how are you supposed to smile and laugh in your fallen enemy’s face as they grasp for their last breath of air before meeting their eight-armed God in whatever they call heaven, if you have bad teeth? How can you have a vampire and werewolf arts industry, if all their teeth have fallen out? There’d be no damned Twilight. What would my daughters do on weekends without Twilight? Get pregnant, that’s what. I mean, c’mon. 4 out of 5 dentists must just not give a f**k.
2. Universal Healthcare
I make my own medicines.
If we hadn’t adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, there’s a good chance we’d be saddled with the suffocating socialist values of the Brits, the worst of course being universal healthcare. Paying a small fraction of my income to the state so that everybody, young, old, rich, poor, can be covered in case of any ailment from asthma to Zeusophobia? No thanks, Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ll suppress my pains with liquor if it’s all the same to you. What if you went your whole life without being sick? You’d still have had to pay for healthcare you never received! What’s next, free education? Free day care? Proportional representation?
3. No Guns
That’s right, folks. Brits ain’t got no guns. Their cops don’t even have guns. Answer me this, Princess Charles: How the hell can you shoot someone if you don’t have a gun? How do pro-athletes settle off-field disputes? How can you hunt buck or pheasant or Arizonans without a XM29 OICW rifle with an integrated laser range-finder, thermal vision and night vision capabilities, and an integral smart grenade launcher? The whole of America would’ve been taken over by now by large game and multi-colored birds running free as we hide in our homes. England is 90% bird habitat, in case you didn’t know.
4. We’d Essentially Be Canada
If Abraham Lincoln didn’t slay the vampires, free the slaves, defeat the British, emptying Boston Harbor of all their Brit tea, the US would now be part of Canada. You’d live in one of 60 provinces. You’d have healthcare (see above). Anyone who wanted to could get married. Your cousins would not have died in Vietnam. Bruce Springsteen’s songs would’ve sucked. You’d be able to speak French. Your kids would play hockey, which is very expensive. Your tuition would have been reasonable. You’d be a damned socialist. Have you ever been to Canada? Headshots is housed up here because most of our unpaid interns are illegals, and I’ll tell you it’s a nightmare.
5. The Monarchy
Ya, that’s right. We’d a have a Queen. Which means 40 percent of our taxes would go to pretty hats, extravagant weddings and pageantry, and castle upkeep, instead of the reasonable and efficient fashion with which those tax dollars are spent now: Camp David, Air Force One, killing foreigners who don’t like us, maintaining the White House, fighting an unwinnable drug war, oppressing minorities, Yosemite National Park, funding illegal covert wars, and making sure that only straight Christians can get married. And just consider how much time the press would spend on the frivolous goings on of the Royal Family, instead of concentrating on important issues like: What part of Kenya was Obama born in, and are Mexicans trying to invade us slowly, from Applebees kitchens, and why did scientists invent climate change.
Oh, and in case you missed it from last week, we’d all be playing soccer. Soccer. For the love of Des Moines, can you imagine?
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).