Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
The Fourth of July means little or nothing to two of our largest groups — the really stupid and the not very patriotic.
It’s just another day to them. They don’t have any respect for the traditions. If they could, they’d just pluck the Fourth out of the calendar and reinsert it in the spring or fall so there’d be one less long hot day and one more shorter, milder one.
I had one of them tell me once, “Instead of Christmas and the Fourth of July, why couldn’t we just have two Christmases?” That’s what passes for logic with these people.
They don’t know you can’t cut-and-paste on a calendar whenever and however you feel like. Think what a chaos our year would be if they took over — Thanksgiving and Easter switching places willy-nilly, and Columbus Day and Arbor Day, and you could have the Super Bowl before the football season even started and the World Series before the cotton was laid-by.
They think NASCAR is just as patriotic as baseball, and I’ve had them tell me that the National Pastime ought to be croquet, professional rassling, or doing meth. They think the frozen apple pies you buy at the Mad Butcher are just as patriotic as the fresh-baked ones sitting on the sill of an open window.
Instead of hot-dog eating contests, they’ll tell you, “Those sandwiches you get at Subway are a lot better for you. Why don’t we go down there and get eight or ten or those?” How can you argue with that? It’s something you either know or you’re never going to know.
They have mottos like, Give me liberty or give me something else. Then they blaspheme the famous July 4 slogan “Live free or die!” by saying, “What good is it being free if you’re dead?” And if you explain to them that it’s the thought that counts, even if it’s not all that profound, they’ll just smart off to you some other way.
Ask them their favorite Founding Father and more of them will tell you Benedict Arnold than James Madison. I don’t know if this is prejudice in favor of traitors or prejudice against short people, but it’s a fact, and the irony is, the better part of them don’t even know who Benedict Arnold was, unless he was the one that betrayed Jesus.
Their favorite color isn’t red, white, or blue. For most of them, it’s aqua. I don’t know why aqua. But show them a palette or a color wheel, and nine of ten of them will pick the aqua. One of them told me, “Give me the pink and gold of a beautiful sunset, and you can keep your old red, white, and blue,” and all I could say was, “All right, but don’t come crying to me when some Communist comes over here and crams your pink and gold banner up your you-know-what.”
That didn’t shame him a bit, though. Didn’t give him one second of pause.
Instead of Old Glory, the flags of preference of these characters are the little plastic triangles on strings around filling stations, convenience stores, and car lots. Ask them if their heart leaps up when they behold a string of those flags, and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy.
As far as they’re concerned, it makes just as much sense to set off your bottle rockets indoors.
And they don’t see anything wrong with knocking down a big old wasp nest right when you’ve got everybody gathered together in the family pavilion for your big Fourth of July dinner, including old people and babies that can’t run.
Where most of us will shoot off fireworks as the Founding Fathers instructed us to, these clowns will do pointless things like airing up automobile tires until they explode. Where’s the holiday enjoyment in that? And a flying piece of that tread could put somebody’s eye out, and a lug nut at high velocity could take you out worse than a 30-aught-6.
In place of John Philip Sousa or Charles Ives, they’ll send somebody up to the microphone who’s just drunk a whole lot of beer or Coke to do a burp-along version of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” They think this is hilarious but it doesn’t sound a bit like “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” It’s just seven burps, followed by six, then seven more, then seven more. Half the time they don’t even get the numbers right.
We used to have patriotic speeches by Daniel Webster; now somebody gets up there and burps.
Or as a noise-making alternative, they’ll take turns shooting shotgun blasts at your mailbox or your yard flamingo, whether your mailbox or yard flamingo has ever done anything to offend them or not. They may also shoot their own mailboxes and flamingoes on occasion, but isn’t that beside the point?
This might be regarded as relatively harmless mischief — but what if a beloved pet walks into the line of fire? Or if a mockingbird got in the line of fire, it being the state bird, officially protected, shooting it, even accidentally, would be a crime punishable by at least as much hard time as Scooter Libby will do.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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