Anyone Have 229 Candles?

Having experienced twenty-nine of them now, I can confidently say that Independence Day truly baffles me. Of all American holidays, this is by far the most bizarre. People take the celebration of our country's freedom rather seriously but choose to honor it in various ways. Allow me a few moments to reflect on some these moments of Americana.

Yesterday morning we decided to go to Mimi's Cafe for breakfast. We expected to wait for an hour or more because the place is always packed [especially on holidays], but we were seated immediately. While many stores were open for business July 4th, there were occasional establishments that decided to close their doors; the ones that remained open [like Meijers and Sam's Club] were crowded. Total unpredictability when it comes to shopping on this holiday.

Then, apparently, nothing says America like the annual hot dog eating contest. I had no idea that this thing has been going on for 90 years now. Can you believe the idiots that got together all those years ago [during a World War, mind you] that decided it would be a good idea to see who could eat the most hot dogs? I guess what's even worse than that is the fact that I know the name of the Grand Champion. It's Kobayashi from Japan. He's won five years in a row and won yesterday by downing 49 hot dogs in 12 minutes. How do I know all this, you ask? It was televised on ESPN yesterday. No, not on ESPN The Ocho, but on regular ESPN. I watched the pregame [seriously] but couldn't stand to watch the disgusting display. Constestants make the wieners go down easier by soaking them in water. If you've never seen it, don't.

Two last notes before moving on: 1) the craziest thing was that the announcers kept referring to hot dog eating as a sport. A SPORT?!?!? Sorry friends, but I'm letting NASCAR in as a sport way before I include eating pig carcass. And 2) Stinkin' Kobayashi weighs 100 pounds soaking wet. There are these huge 300 pounders in the competition and they can't hang with the man. I mean, these are guys who really know how to eat; their training shows. It's truly sad, but nothing says Independence Day like Kobayashi.

Finally we ended up the day at out my brother's house in Indiana for the great Carr family gathering, with Tim using the $40,000 boom truck as a make-shift flag pole. A great time of food, corn-hole and fun which culminated in a fireworks display. And with all the kids around, there was the obligatory appearance of sparklers. I'm assuming everyone's familiar with sparklers: metal rods of flaming magnesium made especially for kids to run around with on the 4th of July. Wonder who the creative genius was who thought that this was a good idea. Probably the same guy who's marketing the asbestos sweater for toddlers. I don't think I'm too over protective of the next generation but, until we were older, dad made us wear leather work gloves to protect ourselves from getting burned. Sure enough, my wonderful nephew couldn't resist the lure of touching the burnt portion, giving him a lesson he won't forget.

What a day! America! America! God shed His grace on thee! Too bad we have to wait a whole 'nother year to do it again.