Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, America!

I had a nice July 4th celebration. I got together with some friends for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Blockhead's Burritos. The food was delicious, but the decor was bizarre, with a sock monkey theme. Yeah...

Then we walked over to the shore to stake out a spot to watch the fireworks. The display was gorgeous. We were having an amazing time.

There was one annoying thing: some parents came at the last second. Now, they might have said, "May our daughter squeeze in next to you so she can see?" It would have a bit self-centered of them (as we waited an hour to get our primo spot), but at least there would have been a modicum of politeness. Instead, they just told her, "Get up there!" and shoved her up between Jenny and me. Her head was literally in my armpit. Yep. What is that brushing against my armpit? A CHILD'S HEAD! Who does that? Who shoves their child in a stranger's armpit? I almost went off, but held back because it isn't the child's fault she's being raised badly. I ignored them and eventually they went away, the child and her brother whining they were bored. I would like to thank my family members for their excellent parenting skills. Our extended family gatherings are remarkably brat-free. Have you seen any of those nanny shows? It's appalling how many Americans are raising their children...that they need to be told to give their children unconditional love, consistent structure and praise when it's earned.

Anyway, despite the run-in with the brat family, the 4th of July fireworks display really got me thinking about America and how much I love it. When I was traveling in Europe, there were all these amazing countries, buildings, museums, cuisines, styles of music and dance. And at first I thought America was missing that, that culture and identity forged over a thousand years or more.

But America is still young. It is a rowdy teen looking for its identity and future and expression and freedom. Because there is no set style for America, there is no limit to what this country can be, and there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

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