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The Column

America is an Okay Place to Be
6/29/03

On this almost July 4th, let us take a look back at the wonderful things our country has done these last 12 months in America's long tradition of freedom. There was this one time when...I mean, we had to have...well someone said...okay, we'll keep looking. Maybe it's behind the eggs.

I'm kidding, of course. You'd see something if it were behind the eggs because an egg carton is fairly short. Also, I'm kidding about not being able to think of great things America has done this past year. Despite all of the crappy stuff for which we get made fun (see grammar rules, anal), America is an okay place to be. I expect "America is an okay place to be" to shortly replace "America the Beautiful" as one of the songs we teach to third graders.

It's hard to go somewhere without hearing someone complain about a facet of America. And that's wonderful because we're all allowed to. We can complain about politics and religion and columnists and anything we want to, and that's part of our charm. Though I doubt the authors of the constitution ever imagined anyone would complain about me, mainly because our forefathers hadn't met me yet when they wrote it.

Maybe we shouldn't have sent troops to Iraq. Or maybe we should have sent more. Maybe the guy at the war protest with a sign that says "I Like Ike" should be medicated. Whatever our opinions, we're free to talk about the issues, and even make fun of them on shows like Saturday Night Live, which we will also later make fun of. We are free to both be stupid and point out stupidity, and to me, that is real freedom. Or at least all the freedom I need because man, am I stupid. And I keep noticing it.

Some of us are free to eat all the fast food we can, while others are free to sue the fast food restaurant for serving it to them. Still others are free to make fun of the people who sued and others are free to make fun of the people who made fun of the people who sued but happen to fall down while making fun of them. Ahhh, now that's freedom.

This country is a grand one, filled with road signs with unintentional sexual innuendo of which college kids take pictures and laugh at for years. This country is a majestic one, ripe with out of touch laws that haven't been repealed and therefore make great email forwards. This country is a fine one, overflowing with souvenir postcards and license plates and miniature ears of corn with "Cheboygan" written on the side, so you don't get it confused with all of your other miniature ears of corn.

I love it here. I love all the traffic and the taxes and the toxic waste and the jaywalking and the Jehovah's Witnesses and the jury duty. Okay, not the jury duty. But I love the creative way I've been getting out of it for the last five years, and ain't that America.

Sometimes, I get upset with America, and I want it to be a better place. But I try not to forget about how wonderful it already is. Where else can a 23-year-old unemployed kid make a living on 800 words a week? Seriously, if you know, tell me, because I need to know where else someone as lazy as I am can survive. Again, I'm kidding. I couldn't survive anywhere else and I know it.

Some people make fun of the American people for being even lazier than me. And in some respects, they're right. Individually, we are in our boxers at noon on a Tuesday playing Double Dragon. But collectively, we have mowed the lawn, taken out the garbage, and cooked a five-course meal by the time most countries have woken up. And then we sit around for the rest of the day playing Double Dragon.

Sure, I'm embarrassed by a lot of what happens in our country. I'm not proud of our history of segregation, classism, and reality TV. But while we haven't aced the final quite yet, I don't see any other countries ruining the curve.

So when the Fourth of July comes, which will probably happen in a matter of days, celebrate what we have. Set off fireworks and eat hot dogs and listen to the Star-Spangled Banner. Then make fun of people for singeing their hand on the fireworks and spilling hot dog ketchup on their shirt, and not knowing the words to the Star-Spangled Banner. And for god sakes, shut up about what's wrong for a day and smile about what's right.

Like getting out of jury duty.

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