Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jon's America VI (The Fourth of July)

A few weeks ago, my good friend Alex arrived in DC from the UK to experience the 4th July festivities with us; this was actually my first exposure to such an unabashed display of pure American-ness (not that such sentiments are usually abashed), and as such Betsy asked me to write my observations on the topic.

Naturally, upon learning that this holiday was coming up, my first reaction was to find a group of British people and huddle together with them for protection against the coming storm. Happily, such sanctuary was available with some English friends down in Charlottesville, who were having a patriotic BBQ party. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that the Americans they’d invited were such awesome, interesting and friendly people – I was fully geared up for dudes in eagle-emblazoned tank tops yelling “yeah, suck it Limeys!” while holding a lit roman candle in one hand while chugging a Miller Lite with the other.

That said, we were not going to be denied fireworks, so we set off to the town display. Plans went awry, as they are wont to do, and en route we temporarily ended up crashing someone’s party. “Hey Australians, get some beer!”, shouted the guy who (I think) was our host, and chucked some Buds at us. We liked him, and saw no reason to make him think we weren’t also formerly browbeaten subjects of the British monarchy. After a short time, we pressed onwards towards the fireworks, our small group having become an unruly drunken mob – an unruly drunken mob with a plan… eschewing the official viewing area, we snuck over a busy road, up a steep embankment and on to municipal golf course. Lying in the grass less than a hundred yards behind the launching area, under cover of darkness, I couldn’t have asked for a better view of a spectacular display. Fireworks for me are inevitably associated with the 5th of November - gunpowder, treason, and plot - so watching them on a hypothermia-free evening felt mildly unsettling but pleasantly refreshing.

USA weekend continued the next day when we went to see the Nats take on the Giants – Alex had never been to a baseball game, and they were giving away FREE bobbleheads! I like watching baseball – I approve of the way that very few people there seem to care too much about what’s going on. Sure, it’s nice when someone whacks the ball, but in the meantime there’s beer and loads of food, and LOOK! LOOK AT THE FUNNY PRESIDENTS RUNNING AROUND AND FALLING OVER! Sometimes, such shenanigans are interrupted by sports, and I know later on in the season people will start taking this seriously (and I’ll pretend to). But for now, if you lose the game then, hey, there’s always another one tomorrow.

But that’s not all the America we did. As the baseball was on, the US women’s football team was kicking arse and taking names in the World Cup final – and they were showing it on the jumbotron in the stadium. England having crashed out miserably to an own goal against Japan in the semi, this chastened slightly, but I dug deep and found it within myself to support you guys. It was a magnificent performance, and being in a packed stadium shouting U.S.A! with everyone else (while Alex looked on slightly alarmed), it felt good to have another nation to root for in life.

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