July 4 Anniversaries
Still, better a one-trick pony than a horse’s ass, and the latter is what I’d be if I celebrated such illusory concepts as “freedom” while simultaneously knowing “I finally have enough money to take a really good vacation, I can even afford to see Europe for the first time firsthand, but I’m not allowed to fly unless some government agent first looks at or touches my genitalia.” Yet few of my fellow Americans are outraged by this; if anything, I’m considered rude, or possibly hyperbolic, for pointing this out.
Fine. If I can’t celebrate “freedom” this July 4, I will instead celebrate the anniversary of the first time Your Humble Blogress Here ever got published. As a child, YHBH spent every summer enrolled in a "Young Writers" summer day camp sponsored by the city school district. I have many fond memories of those programs, though I don’t specifically recall pooping out any patriotic poetry as July 4 approached, when I was nine years old. Still, I know I produced at least one pro-America poem that summer – doubtless written in my absolute-best Magic Markered handwriting, on colored construction paper decorated with red, white and blue glitter – and the first of the poem’s three stanzas read:
of the red, white and blue
the three dear colors
of the land of the true.
Some two years after I composed that little masterpiece, on Fourth of July when I was eleven, my mother suddenly started yelling, “Jennifer, you're in the paper!” Sure enough, the newspaper my family subscribed to in those primitive pre-internet days had a special holiday insert section, an insert filled with patriotic prose, poetry and pictures by local schoolchildren, including a three-stanza ode to the Fourth of July printed over the words “JENNIFER ABEL, age 9.”
One line of the poem, obviously alluding to our national flag, mentioned “Fifty stars and thirteen strips.” Even though my 11-year-old self had no memory of writing the poem two years earlier, she indignantly insisted someone at the newspaper must have made a mistake, because even at age nine I’d known the difference between “strips” and “stripes” (though had no idea I’d do the former, nine years hence).
I read the poem with the maturity and sophistication I had at aged eleven-going-on-twelve and, even overlooking the strip-stripe typo, was utterly horrified by this reminder of how childish and simplistic my writing and thoughts had been back during my single-digit years, twenty-four months previous. And it didn’t help that my mother called all our relatives to tell them “Jennifer’s in the paper!”, then called all the neighbors and asked them to save their Fourth of July inserts for her because “Jennifer’s in the paper!”
Fourth of July, personal milestone, childhood trauma ... all the same to me. So maybe it’s fitting that YHBH started out writing shiny pro-America poems on July 4 and now spends the holiday planning ways to enrich foreign airline companies in lieu of my own countrymen, since the easiest way for me to simultaneously visit Europe and avoid being molested by the TSA involves my first traveling to an airport in French Canada.
So be it. Any given TSA agent can certainly kiss my ass, but otherwise may not touch it.