Friday, July 04, 2008

Rockets red glare

I've felt some kind of strange pressure to write something, what with it being the Fourth of July and me being an expatriate American and all.

However, I find that my feelings about both patriotism and America are far too ambivalent and complicated to pour into the kind of blog post that I really feel up to writing tonight. It's been a long day of translating jewellery-company promotional material under the influence -- at least during the evening alcoholics here -- of a bottle of whiskey and, in any case, why do you care what I, who have left the Land of the Free, have to say about this, eh? Eh?

I would say that part of my feelings are expressed by Francis, part by Bing, and part by whoever it is who writes Sorry I Missed Your Party.

That seems like a good healthy mixture to me.

And I am reminded of a Fourth of July long ago.

I was 16, and this was in the dark heart (or possibly the pancreas) of the Reagan years. Along with a few friends of mine, I attended a Fourth of July party hosted by The Boyfriend of Older Sister #3 (counting from oldest to youngest). By this point, they'd have been in their mid-twenties.

There, we found kegs of beer that were made freely available to our underage palates as well as a very odd guy -- with a very bad perm, as I recall -- who offered us at various points some LSD.
We -- mainly -- stuck with the beer. The fireworks, I recall were fabulous, the friends had a good time, and the beer was as good as American keg beer got in the age before micro-breweries became popular.

And Older Sister #3, I found out later, quite literally discovered her boyfriend in bed with another woman, ending their many-years relationship.

By early the next morning, my best friend at the time managed to pilot our rather drunken teenage wrecks to our various homes safely in his 1964 Corvair.

My girlfriend at the time was, as I recall, kind of a bitch to me. As she usually was.

These are the associations, I must say, that the combination "4" and "July" spontaneously bring forth.

Along, perhaps, with a few years in Chicago, where the fireworks on the Lake (and more rarely the music) were amazing. Or a few years in Washington, D.C., where the fireworks were equally spectacular on the Mall.

Times that were quite pleasant and where I was, in one way or another, somehow a bit fucked up.

Yes, that's freedom for you.

Make of this what you will.


Jojo Chintoh said...

And somehow, amazingly, it seems to be America in Miniature.

J. Carter Wood said...

Somehow, yes.

But were we really smaller back then?


Happy Fourth, while it lasts.