If you are older than dirt (I am older than dirt) you may remember the most fantastic on-line comic ever, Get Yer War On. It's over now and I still miss it's awesomeness. Reading it was like discovering that you had four more eyes on your head that worked but whose data you had been ignoring since you were three years old. Go get some war on and then come right back because I want to talk about patriotism and how we wankers have let our respective countries (except Holland apparently) be overrun by baboons.
Back? Great. I'm subscribed to a number of mailing lists and one of these is for area parents. Fine. Good. Parents trade suggestions on where to find a nice ballet class, what summer camps do not suck blah blah blah. And. Certain totally favorite topics come up on a regular basis. For example:
1. What is the best preschool for a future Nobel winner?
2. My kids spend all their time playing Cut The Rope on my iPad. Is that ok?
3. My child is a prodigy. Should I apply to Stanford now or wait a year?
4. My wife is pregnant and I have too much money. What car should I buy?
5. My kid can't walk and chew gum. Is it too late to trade him in for a newer model?
Ok. I made 2 up. No one worries about iPad usage.
Anyways the stars aligned and the timing was correct and the parents decided to have their bi-mobnthly discussion whose name is "What Car Do I Buy." I know you guys are totally desperate for the answer so I'm going to tl;dr the experience since the parents can jaw about their favorite cars for hours, nay days, nay months. And it is really boring to listen to them natter on about three rows of seats.
The results of which car do I get now that I have a baby fall into two groups:
Camp #1 says "get a minivan, the sliding doors are so fucking awesome you will cry with joy on rainy days although admittedly it rarely rains here."
Camp #2 says "only pussies drive minivans, get the biggest SUV you can afford. That's the only way the world will know that your woman is getting satisfed every night by a [redacted] that is bigger than a baseball bat.
Blah blah blah.
I can't call it camp #3 (to be a camp you need to be more than one person) but on this occasion there was one dissenting opinion and his answer went like this:
"...my advice (as a parent) would be to get a Prius or an electric car, because you want your kids to grow up with a healthy planet."
Cue laughter from everyone else.
After the helpless mirth died down there was a short silence followed by a single response before the parents returned to "tastes great/less filling" aka SUV/minivan.
Here's that one response:
"That's sooo UnAmerican. You need a Suburban!!! :)"
Yeah well fuck you. Fuck you and the Suburban you rode in on. Fuck your over-sized cars and your making fun of the one poor bastard who at least showed some vague cognition that taking a giant fuel dump and setting it on fire was a little sick. And a special fuck you for calling the guy unAmerican. How the fuck did we get to the point where being an American meant buying the biggest fattest oiliest car we could fucking afford? I call bullshit on your so-called Americanism.
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, concieved in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Equal, my friends. Not Equality for those with the largest automobiles. Equality for all of us.
What tenets define your country? How does your country imagine itself? Americans may speak of their proud individualism. They like to toss the word "freedom" around quite a lot. They like to point to the American Revolution and say that they will not be ruled by a king, they will be ruled by someone they elect. Americans like to say that anyone who works hard can come to this country and be a success.
What do Americans NOT say when they lovingly define themeselves, possibly jerking off as they do so if they are in the privacy of their own homes. They do not say "Being American is to be dependent on foreign oil. I proudly encourage that dependency by buying the biggest most inefficient car I can find." They do not say it because it is lame and embarrassing and the soul of un-American.
There is nothing more individual, more "take responsibility" more indepedent or more free than choosing a bicycle. Screw the middle-east with it's absolutely disgusting and un-democratic politics and it's "we hate our women so much that we insist they go around wearing giant black bags despute the temperature being 110 degrees in the shade." Screw them. Screw the way they throw acid on the faces of women who turn down their puny sexual advances. Screw their oil. Definitely screw their oil. Let them keep it and roll around in it.
What's your country made of? What makes you proud about being Scottish, Australian, British, Ethiopian? Is it your ability to make rainbows from shoe strings? Is it your friendliness? Is it your calm in the face of danger? Whatever your particular flavor of patriotism, it probably does not include "we are so lazy that we drive to the corner liquor store preferably in the biggest fattest car available."
So take it back. Ride your bicycle.