Is the national anthem considered a slow dance?

Fourth of July

Happy birthday, America!!!!!!!! It’s motherflipping INDEPENDENCE DAY and I’m charging through the Nevada desert on this bucking bronco of a freight train, with my T-shirt tied up so my midriff shows, wearing six pairs of sunglasses at once. Because IT’S A FREE COUNTRY, folks!!!! That means you can get your ears pierced twice on one side and once on the other! That means the government only keeps a few extra copies of all your emails! That means YOU CAN WEAR PAJAMAS TO THE MOVIES.

42430-tween-hobo-assets-leaninI tell you what—if the English actor Robert Pattinson, who portrays Edward Cullen in the Twilight movie franchise, were to board this train right now and offer to fly me away on a private jet to Buckingham Palace, I would straight-up decline. “Not today, Robert Pattinson,” I would say. “Not today.” Here’s the thing about British people: they have such good manners that they thought it was proper to fight a war wearing bright red coats. Meanwhile us “rude” Americans discovered a little thing called “camouflage,” hid in the trees, and beat the crap out of them. And camouflage is still trendy today. What’s the moral? Eat with your hands, don’t say thank you, and you’ll be a global superpower for at least a few centuries until China takes over.

America looks different from a freight train. TBH it looks kind of more boring. I mean, sure, there are the majestic vistas, the amber waves of grain (#nofilter), the mountains and the trees and the rivers and the prairie. But you don’t see as many advertisements. And I love advertisements. I like to know what video games are rated M for Mature and which products are now available with a hint of lime. I try to stay absolutely up-to-the-minute on which toys now come with which meals. I like to know there’s a lawyer I could call one day in the far future if I was to suffer a workplace injury.


I like to think that all the happy families in the advertisements live in one insanely happy town where all the moms wear fresh khakis as they load up the backs of their SUVs and all the dads burst in after work with piping-hot buckets of fried chicken and everyone goes on affordable vacations and all the kids get everything they want.

One of my favorite things to see in an advertisement is a fake to-do list. It’ll be written in perfect mom-handwriting, and maybe the golden pen the imaginary mom used to write it will be lying there, askew, atop the digitally rendered day planner. The list will say something like “Pick up Jessica at flute practice. Water plants. Talk to a State Farm insurance representative about all my options.” When I see a list like that, I get a little choked up. Because the mom is taking such good care of her family. And doing it with such brisk elegance. That Jessica is a lucky girl, to have such a mother.

Speaking of moms, I got a text from my mom yesterday. It said, “Your tweets are lots of fun. Sounds like you’re doing some real hands-on learning. Don’t forget to take your medication.” That was it. Not a word about coming home. Not a word about my brother. Total zombie text. The more I looked at it, the more I felt there was actually something kind of spooky about it.

Or no. Maybe spooky’s not the word. Maybe it’s more like suspicious. Maybe this is one of my mom’s psychological tricks. Like she thinks if she just plays along with this whole thing and doesn’t act like it’s inappropriate that I’m on a cross-country sleepover party for infinity-plus-one nights with a posse of vagrants, maybe I’ll just lose interest in the whole thing and come running home to her. Like if she acts like she doesn’t care where I am, maybe I’ll just get to thinking about that one super-smushed-up corner of the couch in the TV room where, when I cuddle up in it, I feel like a baby pillow pressed up against some kind and warm adult pillows. Like I’d ever get homesick for that.


Well, even if I did get homesick for that—even if maybe I’m crying a little bit right now because I miss my mom a lot—I can’t go home. Not yet. I have to find my brother. And I’m close. Another night or two and we’ll be in California! Where, who knows, we might just run into Justin Bieber at a 7-Eleven or something! And then also I have to figure out some way to reunite Stumptown Jim and Mr. Brink. Jeez, I’ve got a to-do list. Fetch me my golden pen, Jessica!

Plus, who cares about TV-room couches when you’re stretched out on the deck of a freight train zooming through the Nevada desert on the Fourth of July. Toothpick Frank just tossed me a mostly not rotten peach. All the tensions between us about who’s BFFLs and stuff have melted away in the summer sun. We’ve settled everything, and the upshot is we’re all going to be buddies for life. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but the farther we ride, the more I’m starting to get the feeling I know What Makes This Country Great! #USA #Freedom #StarsNStripes #OldGlory #NissanSalesEvent!!!!