07 July 2010

American Urban Anthropology

The other day, I joined two of my Japanese friends to eat out. It was July 4, and so the Americans were busy with their cookouts and stuff. The three Asians on the other hand went to an Asian restaurant and decided to eat out.

On the way to the restaurant, we noticed that the roads were empty. Wow. Where is everybody? Oh perhaps they're in their backyards, preparing the grill, cooking the burgers, and things like that. So, that would be good, so that there wouldn't be any crowds in the restaurants.

When we got there, it was actually packed. But there was still no wait for the tables. There was a large group of rather elderly-looking American men and women, and they were loud. In fact, their voices were drowning out every other noise in the establishment. Meanwhile, the two Japanese dudes and I were quietly conversing while eating our meal. After all, the Japanese people typically don't want to stand out and be heard in public.

After that, we decided to watch the fireworks. So in order to do that, we went to campus, which is actually one of the places where one can see the displays. We waited for a couple of hours, because at that point, the sun was still up, and so there wasn't any fireworks yet. Around ten pm, it started.

Now here is something that I found interesting. Fourth of July is supposed to be a political celebration: it's the celebration of one country's independence, because back in the days, King George III screwed up, and so his colonies decided to rebel against him.

Nowadays, Fourth of July seems like one big barbecue cookout. People bring out their Adirondack chairs, people pack their coolers, people put mats on the grass, and they just lounge around. Children play with these luminous sticks that you can form into various shapes and sizes. Overall, it was an interesting yet somehow hard-to-comprehend situation.

So, I suppose the lesson learned was that the older one gets, the louder one speaks, and Fourth of July gives one reason to play with luminous sticks that one would otherwise not play with if it were any other day.

(Big Bowl and Small Men, from my Moray Series)

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