Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day 2004

Julian’s class was marching in the Bay Shore Memorial Day parade today. We’re getting ready to head over to the staging point at 9 AM when Cordelia suddenly pipes up that her class is marching too and she had to go. Okay, fine. I’ll load the two kids into the car, drop them at the parade, grab a couple of slammers at 7-11, and head over to the finish line to collect them at the end of the parade.

It was not to be. We get to the staging area and start looking around. Julian’s class is off to one side – they’re all wearing laminated cardboard signs with magic markered names of American troops who’ve died in Iraq. Leading this charge is the Sir Learns-A-Lot banner that some grade school alumnus donated for parades.

Cordelia’s class is out in a side street. They’re handing out the Uncle Sam hats they made out of white paper bags. Cordelia gets a small American flag, but gets upset because she wants a big American flag. Of course, she works her way to the front so that she can hold the school banner: “Don’t Go Extinct, Read A Book!” I ask a teacher where I should meet them, and I’m told that I have to walk with her. I’ve just been press ganged into the Memorial Day parade.

Of course, you know what happens in these scenarios. The kids walk for a few feet, then get tired. For much of the mile and a half, I am forcibly marched through the streets of Bay Shore holding a “Don’t Go Extinct, Read A Book!” sign, enduring the derision of the angry crowd. Main Street is littered with roadkill, thanks to the Town of Islip’s crack Dead Animal Removal division. At one point, we stepped over something with a nametag on it. $ir Win$ton, of $ir Win$ton Realty, made sure that his “God Bless America / $ir Win$ton Realty” balloons got into everyone’s hands. So now I’m marching while holding a “Don’t Go Extinct, Read A Book!” sign in one hand and a $ir Win$ton balloon in the other. Some Dr. Seussian “Proud To Be An American” song is on a continual tape loop in front of us. I don’t have my sunglasses, and it changes from overcast to that uniquely glaring sun thing that you only get when you leave your sunglasses in the car on a cloudy day.

God, sometimes I just hate America.

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