Salute to Stupidity (#235)

Growing up in Washington, D.C. means no other Independence Day celebration will live up to your childhood memories. For a relentlessly political, cynical city, they throw a heck of a party.

Photo by Ron Engle

First, there’s the National Independence Day Parade. This ain’t no small, hometown parade where the local horses and fire trucks are the stars of the show. This is A Historical Spectacle. There are hundreds of Uncle Sams (some  in balloon form or on stilts). Bewigged Founding Fathers abound, as do Paul Revere impersonators. Military bands–past and present–are pressed into service, sweating in wool uniforms and 100 degree heat. My sisters and I once counted seventy-five Betsy Rosses. (We would’ve liked some Deborah Sampsons better, but we cheered what female historical figures we could get.)

From National Archives News

After the parade, tens of thousands of people descend on the National Mall. Some visit the National Archives, home of the Declaration of Independence, which has its own concert and historical impersonators.

When my dad worked on Capitol Hill (and had a parking space), we’d picnic on the hill below the Capitol building. Sometimes we’d watch the PBS “Capitol Fourth” concert (my younger sister was on TV once, even). Sometimes we walked to the Washington Monument for the best view of the fireworks, whining about the bugs and heat the whole way. When it was time for the big finale, Dad would race off to get the car. He’d have it waiting at the closest curb. We’d all pile in, trying to beat the traffic from the mass exodus.

From the IG of my direct opposite, a SoCal guy who moved to D.C.

After Dad lost his job and primo parking space, we picnicked at the Jefferson Memorial (less crowds, worse view of fireworks) or the Lincoln Memorial (more crowds, better fireworks view).

Every area that didn’t involve the fireworks display or wasn’t being restored was open to the public. Hippies with sparklers sang “Happy Birthday America.” Religious fanatics screamed that we were going to hell. Sunburned Midwesterners bought up flags and bug repellant. There were protestors of all kinds, but the celebration was open to all.

This is the first year I’m glad I’m not back home. Not because of the bugs, or the 100 degree heat, or 100% humidity. It’s not even because of crowds of willfully ignorant, drunk, white, flag-waving Americans confusing nationalism with patriotism.

It’s because Trump fucking ruins everything.

This year, Trump’s taking over the Lincoln Memorial and holding a political rally called “Salute to America.” You need a ticket to enter, and you won’t get one unless you’re a Republican friend, family, or political donor. If you support Trump, you can sit in the bleachers he’s erecting and have a perfect view of the fireworks display, which he moved to give himself the best seat in the house.

Trump insists on expensive flyovers by the Blue Angeles and bombers all the way from the midwest.

Trump’s diverting money desperately needed by our underfunded National Parks to pay for all this and tanks (technically “armored personnel carriers”).  Never mind that the National Park Service and everyone else has warned Trump that tanks may crack roads and do other damage.

The Orange Pustule doesn’t care. He has to have military trappings to prove his greatness. Just like Hitler.

Maybe you think the Hitler comparison is over the top. It’s not, but fine. Here’s a more obvious comparison.

There was one other President who did his best to turn the Independence Day celebration at the Lincoln Memorial into a conservative, pro-President, pro-military, nationalistic event. The “Honor America Day” was arranged by white, conservative, Christian men (Mormon J.W. Marriott and Evangelist Billy Graham). It began with Graham praying. Next up were acts by Hollywood C-listers (because the A & B list declined). Marriott and Graham called these acts a “Salute to America” (which should also sound familiar, as, yes, Trump’s team is actually using the EXACT SAME NAME because they have no original thoughts). The first “Salute to America” even had Jeannie C. Riley bashing anti-war protestors by singing:

If you don’t love it, leave it
Let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’
When you’re runnin’ down our country, hoss
You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

In case you haven’t figured out which President ordered the first odious “Salute to America,” it was Nixon.* Seriously. I can’t make this shit up. Trump literally stole his celebration idea from disgraced President Nixon, who eventually resigned rather than be impeached.

May Trump’s era end in the same ignominious fashion.

*Unlike Trump, however, Nixon was smart enough not to attend his own “Salute to America.” He stayed home in San Clemente, far away from the heat, the bugs, the protestors, and the tear gas. 

To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)

I’ve never been fragile. Born into a large family of semi-feral children, I learned to guard my food and my stuffed animals early. I mowed lawns, lifted weights, and fought dirty with siblings when necessary (also when unnecessary).

Sympathy and coddling were in short supply. Like most young women, I powered through feeling like crap when I had cramps, headaches, and nausea.

The “I can endure misery” mindset was helpful when I was pregnant. I continued working out and playing volleyball, since the endorphins helped me not puke all the time. I still walked my rescue dogs for miles. My only concession to pregnancy was lighter weights and no squats.

This astounded people.

Continue reading To Coddle, or Not to Coddle? (#246)

The Dogs of Christmas (#242)

When I was a little girl, my mother organized caroling and a party on Christmas Eve. We sang our way around the block in Washington D.C. We were met with universal delight. Those were magical times

My Ex-Stepmother carried on the tradition in the suburbs of D.C. and then New England.

Until I dated a guy from rural Tennessee over the holiday season, I never thought some people might find caroling…odd.

Continue reading The Dogs of Christmas (#242)

Snapped (#241)

My ex-debutante mother trained my siblings and me to be good hosts. She also trained us to be good guests. We brought bread and butter gifts. We found something to compliment in every home. We ate whatever food was placed in front of us without complaint and insisted on helping with the dishes. 

We were groomed to make social occasions run smoothly, with nary a scene. White Anglo Saxon Protestants (i.e., WASPs) with social pretensions avoid conflict and HATE scenes. They are a symbol of ugliness and failure. 

And so common.

Continue reading Snapped (#241)

Houseguest vs. Hostess (#240)

A woman’s home is her castle. Until her father-in-law shows up.

I’m white woman raised by a former debutante. My racist Southern grandma ran a charm school. As liberated as my mother tried to be, she was still stuck on Rules of Acceptable Female Behavior.

One such rule was “Be an Exemplary Hostess.” When friends came over, they got first pick of snacks, toys, and sleeping bags. They chose the games we played.

When my parents entertained, we children took coats. We handed around hors d’ oeuvres. We got adults drinks. If there was a shortage of chairs, we offered our seats to adults and took the floor. We cleared the table and did the dishes, too. My mother took immense pride in the praise guests heaped upon her for her adorable little helpers.

She shared their praise with us. And since we were many, and desperate for attention, we got a little warped.

Continue reading Houseguest vs. Hostess (#240)

Sex, Sorrow, and Costco (#239)

I was raised by a liberated woman and a man who believed his daughters should mow lawns, change tires, and have the same curfew as their older brother.

My sisters and I crushed in academics no less than my brother. We were better singers, better dancers, and better athletes. Also more popular. (Sorry, Big Bro!)

NASA came to my schools seeking women astronauts. They told us women had better reflexes than men, handled G-forces better than men, and coped better in close quarters better than men and please could we girls consider being astronauts?

I never understood why a person should be more valued because they were born with a penis. I mean, having a penis means you’re kind of fragile and likely to die earlier than a woman.

Continue reading Sex, Sorrow, and Costco (#239)

They’re Coming (#238)

When my white family reunites, we plan. A year in advance, a cascade of emails about wedding beach houses, Christmas in New Hampshire, or running a 10K at Thanksgiving begin.

And then there’s my husband’s Chinese-American family. Near the end of October, Andy said, “So we haven’t seen my parents in a while.”

“Yes,” I agreed, smiling. And then stopped smiling. “Wait. Are you saying to want to go see them? Before your brother’s wedding next summer?” (Yes, Denny was finally getting married! But that’s another post.)

“Well…” Continue reading They’re Coming (#238)

Rules for Trick-or-Treating (#237)

I have exactly one rule when it comes to Halloween.

Rule #1: Everyone who comes to my door on Halloween gets candy.

I have these rules because I had a racist Southern Grandma. The worst Halloween horror story I ever heard was about that grandma. My mother once told me how her mother would keep two bowls of candy by the door on Halloween. One bowl was filled with Hershey Bars. That bowl was for the neighborhood kids.

The other bowl was filled with candy corns and cheap lollipops. When truckloads of “poor kids” came in from “more rural areas,” to trick-or-treat, they got the crap candy. Continue reading Rules for Trick-or-Treating (#237)

Something Is Under the House (#236)

I thought I’d made peace with the freaky-assed crawl space below our house in Los Angeles. It’s not a nice, solid basement, but makes sense to have easy access to plumbing and the electrical lines for our drip system. And after multiple years, the only scary thing lurking under our house had turned out to be our own mischievous dog.

Until recently. Continue reading Something Is Under the House (#236)

Weary of Boys (#235)

I always knew my husband and I would have a boy. An ultrasound at 21 weeks proved I was right.

Usually I love being right.

Not this time. Continue reading Weary of Boys (#235)