the short story project


Daniel Oliver

What America Means to Me

Yesterday I was asked the question: “What does America mean to you?”

At the time, I wasn’t sure how to answer. And, to be honest, I almost immediately forgot the question because at that point, I had been sucking boxed wine directly from the spigot for a little over five hours.

But this morning when I woke up and realized it was Independence Day, that question was catapulted to the forefront of my mind. I tried again to give it some serious thought…but again was immediately distracted; this time by the giant pile of fireworks in my garage that wasn’t gonna’ blow itself up.

After spending the afternoon plowing through an entire case of beer, and daring God to take a few of my fingers, it dawned on me that I could so easily disregard that question because it’s nearly impossible to sum up America in words.

That’s because America, to me at least, is more like a feeling.

Not a feeling that has roots planted in former greatness. I don’t think America really can equate to greatness because America has never really been uniformly “great” in anything.

That word is relative, and way too broad. It exists on 327 million different spectrums, each with a different set measuring points. It’s meaning isn’t universal; it never has been, and likely never will be, and to argue otherwise is an exercise in insincerity. However, that’s not to say America can’t be equated to another insurmountably strong feeling.

Like anticipation.

Anticipation doesn’t ring as hollow as “great” when applied to all citizens because it’s a feeling that doesn’t have as much variance.

Which is why, to me, America doesn’t mean greatness; to me, America means impending greatness.

America is that feeling when you know something tremendous is just around the corner. America is that feeling when you know your team is about to come through in the clutch.

America to me… is like a tied baseball game in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded.

Muhammad Ali is on first, Hulk Hogan on second, and Abraham-Goddamn-Lincoln on third.

Hitler is on the mound trying to close out the game when Jesus steps up to the plate.

He’s got a thick ass wad of Skoal under his lip and fire in his eyes. He carries with him not a bat, but a party sized meatball sub he bought with no intention of sharing with anyone else.

He digs his sandals into the dirt and slowly points the tip of his sandwich to deep center field.

That’s when the stadium falls silent. The collective anticipation of a momentous moment hangs in the air like the scent of a turd in a misty cloud of Fresh Meadow Fabreeze.

Hitler winds up and throws a vicious 200 mph two-seam fast ball, but Jesus’ swing is just too pure. He hits the ball right on the sweet spot sending it rocketing past the outfield. Over the weeping eyes of Osama Bin Laden and the entire 1980 USSR Hockey Team, its soars.

Over the grand stands, it flies further. Out of stadium, the parking lot, the stratosphere. The ball hits the Death Star and it explodes.

The entire stadium erupts in cheers. Those who aren’t weeping begin making out with whoever is closest to them.

Jesus tosses his sub into the stands just before slamming two cans of Miller High Life together, dousing himself with beer Stone Cold Steve Austin style.

From the dugout, John Mayer throws Jesus an electric guitar and he begins to shred the Star Spangled Banner as he trots the bases.

As he passes third base, Jesus gives the finger to Hitler who is sobbing uncontrollably. Urine soaks the front of Nazi brown pants; the entire stadium laughs at him.

F-16 fighter jets flying in a victory formation scream over the stadium and fireworks fill the sky as Jesus is met at home plate by the entire cast of Hamilton. They give Jesus a champagne and Mountain Dew victory shower as he throws a saddle over a bald eagle and flies off into the sunset.

Fuck. Yeah.

Okay…while, I realize I just went a little off the rails in what started as a totally sincere, reflective piece regarding the current emotions swirling this country, it’s important for you to realize that I’ve had a considerable amount of booze today.

I also reserve the right not to really give a fuck what you think. After all, if I cared what anyone thought, I couldn’t in good consciousness call myself a good American.

With that being said, Happy mother-fuckin’ Independence day.

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