I’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 it 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.
Next up was an afternoon “4th Feast” at a business friend of my husband’s. Which meant the entire family had to be on their best behavior or as my husband instructed, “Act nothing like you do at home.” The invitation stated the dress was “Fierce Fourth”. I guessed that meant be sure to wear some red, white and blue. I was wrong. It meant come in costume.
There were folks dressed as the Statue of Liberty. (Of course one woman was working a sexy Statue of Liberty costume. Umm, pardon me, but I don’t think the Statue of Liberty has exposed cleavage and a leg slit up to her crotch.) One guy came as Uncle Sam, someone else had on tights and knickers working a little Thomas Jefferson and there were lots of tri-corner hats. Needless to say I felt woefully under dressed in my Old Navy, two years ago, Fourth of July t-shirt. Although at least my shirt had a flag on it. My husband was a party pooper in navy blue golf shirt with khaki shorts and my kids were barely working a fourth theme at all. At least my daughter had on red flip-flops. Although we didn’t win a costume award we were still winners because the party was held outside and Thomas Jefferson and Uncle Sam were sweating bullets in their get ups. I blame it on their tights.
Each guest was asked to bring to the party food representing something from the 13 colonies. I brought a corn casserole; most people brought Boston baked beans one family arrived with ice tea. Let’s call them the cheap and easy family. The hostess was very excited to share her Key Lime pie representing Florida. She eagerly and repeatedly chatted about her recipe and the difficultly of finding “something fun to make from Florida”. Both of my kids gave me looks about this Florida pie. Most especially my son who rolled his eyes and did the head shake thing. I gave him the mom look that said, “Shut it.” He didn’t listen and instead whispered in my ear, “Shouldn’t someone tell her Florida was not one of the 13 colonies? It became a state in the mid 1800’s. She sounds like an idiot.”
This is all my daughter needed to hear to pipe in with, “Yeah, I think it was like owned by Spain in 1776 or was it England? Whatever, it’s just too bad she never learned that song.”
“What song?” I ask.
“You know the 13 Original Colony song we all had to sing in choir in the 3rd grade.”
(Warning this song will haunt your brain and not in a good way. Think before clicking. http://www.songsforteaching.com/recall/13colonies.htm )
“Well, here’s the deal, kids. I don’t really don’t know this woman at all and it’s not our place to correct her. That’s what family members are for doing embarrassing corrections in public. We’re not her family so we zip it. ”
“I know what we can do to shut her up”, my son says while staring at the Key Lime. “We can eat all the pie and then she can’t go around talking about how it’s was so hard to think of a food to go with Florida.”
I give that idea thumbs up and my two kids help themselves to generous servings of the pie. Proving my mother’s life long philosophy that you can always eat your way out of almost any problem
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 the next time 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.
*Attention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon. It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. I hope you like it! 🙂