Let Freedom Ring

1004615_586237274731481_647193548_nI’m sure my July 4th was just like yours full of food, fireworks and annoyance. My festive Independence Day started by attending a local bike parade. You know where the kids decorate their bikes and ride a couple of blocks while their parents take pictures. At this parade prizes were given in age specific categories to best decorated bikes.

Everything was fun and games until a dad got his feelings hurt. Two out of three of his kids got blue ribbons (crappy, blue ribbons you can get at the craft store 3 for $1.00) for best-decorated bike. His eldest lost out to a girl who probably had been spending most of her summer vacation in bike decoration mode. She had one of those classic Schwinn bikes with a big basket and she went all out with red, white and blue paper flowers, glitter, you name it.

The dad was upset because it “wasn’t fair that his eldest child didn’t win anything” when his two younger kids did. He thought the HOA should “think of siblings” when they give awards. He told, what I’m assuming was one of the judges, “If you’re going to give two of my kids something then you damn well better make sure you don’t leave the third one out.”

Some very nice couple tried to talk him down. But Daddy Hurt Feelings just got angrier, grabbed the two ribbons clutched in his children’s hands, threw them in the air and then angrily pedaled off. Not that he looked that angry because he was on a bike decorated with crepe paper streamers but you could tell he tried to invest some hard-core fury when he stood up on those pedals. The whole thing kind of made my morning.

As night fell I looked forward to seeing the city’s fireworks display. The only downside to enjoying them is that it usually means you’re forced to sit among a crowd of thousands to do so. If you’re lucky you’ll be surrounded by families who enjoy the experience by simply oohing and aahing and if you’re not you’ll be sitting next to a bunch of super chatty moms you want to strangle.

This was the case last night. I knew I was in trouble when three women, who each seemed to have 20 kids, didn’t have the brain acumen to figure out how to spread a blanket on the ground. It totally stumped them.

Once they got settled on their blanket one of them (I kid you not) begins using a pumice stone on her feet. Okay, it was one of these pedi egg things so her foot funk was not being jettisoned into the atmosphere, but still – gross.

Thankfully, the music starts up very soon after they sit down and the fireworks begin. Apparently, classic patriotic tunes are not these women’s thing. So, they each start looking through their iTunes accounts on their phones and on the count of three, each cue up Born in the USA.

Do I like Bruce Springsteen? Of course, but do I really need to hear it playing over live symphony music on someone’s crappy phone speakers, with each women’s phone playing a different part of the song? Imagine the worst kindergarten sing along of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and you’ve encapsulated my experience.

If that’s not bad enough they then begin loudly talking about their kids upcoming swim and dive championships. Except instead of championships they say champs, which they pronounce as shamps. (You know like all the Real Housewives call champagne, shamps.) It’s killing me. Like fingernails on a chalkboard killing me.

On and on it’s all about the shamps practice schedule, the shamps banquet and how all the moms need to color coordinate their outfits for the shamps. “OMG I’m sending a shamps group text out right now to all the 12 and under moms to be sure to wear aqua marine with a hint of teal to the shamps meet.”

My husband is squeezing my hand so hard it hurts and my daughter’s body is shaking from laughing. I know why my husband has the death squeeze on my hand. He doesn’t want me to say anything. I know my daughter is laughing because she knows, of course, I will.

I try very hard to concentrate on the red, white and blue of it all going on in the sky, but even bombs bursting in the air aren’t enough of a distraction to block out these women. They are begging, just begging for someone to slap them.

To make matters worse I’ve gone over and over a whole diatribe in my head of what I want to say to them and it’s got me fired up. You know how you always think of some amazing zingers after you have a confrontation with someone? Well, I’ve had a good ten minutes to write a whole speech in my head and now my brain is begging for me to release these words.

I shake myself free of my husband’s hand look behind me and say, “Ladies three things. Shamps is not a word. It’s, at most, a portion of the first syllable in shampoo. I think the word you’re looking for is championship or champ, as in she was the champ of the swim meet. Secondly, your phone music is at best a nuisance at worst rude. There is a symphony playing. You’re phones in no way compare to live music. Lastly, you with the pedi egg. Put it up and please save it for when you’re killing time waiting for your date in the Walmart parking lot.”

For the first time since the three moms set down on their blanket they’re silent. I see my husband out of my peripheral vision. He’s scooting away from me taking most of our blanket and our daughter with him. I maintain eye contact with the chatty moms. My rule is if you’re going to dish it out then you have to stay to take it. Pedi egg looks at me and growls, “Bitch.”

I say, “Yep, I’m a shamps bitch” and then I turn away, look up at the sky and catch the tail end of the fireworks finale. Sometimes you just have to let freedom ring.


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