I'm wondering if my elementary school was secretly some sort of breeding ground for future members of the Armed Forces or maybe the Presidential cabinet....or possibly NASCAR. As I learned over the July 4th weekend, my fellow countrymen who did not attend Southern Boulevard Elementary School don't share my notably vast knowledge of patriotic jams. Is it weird that I know at least 10 songs celebrating the unparalleled splendor of the US of A, word for word? Seriously, I think it might be.
Other Americans can belt out flawless lyrics to colorful classics like Bust a Move or I Like Big Butts, successfully entertaining bored people on car trips and/or impressing drunk people on dance floors. But, nope, not me. My lyrical memory has been committed to declarations of pride in the land where our fathers died, the land of the pilgrims' pride, from evvvvverrrrry mountainside...
The useful part of all this, I'm now learning, is when it comes to Independence Day sing-offs, I really have a leg up. Yeah, that's right. I know every last word to America The Beautiful, The Star Spangled Banner and even This Land is Your Land (no small feat). I guess that's the result of performing these songs every year at the annual "spring concert"--from kindergarten through 4th grade.
Pretty much the event of the year in small-town NJ, my entire class would prepare for months for this performance where we attempted to dazzle our parents with patriotic melodies...probably boring them to tears. Dressed up in party dresses, white tights and Patton leather Mary Janes, we'd passionately bang red, white and blue percussion sticks together to motherland classics like You're a Grand 'Ole Flag, stomping our feet at the end for artistic emphasis. Afterwards, if you were reeeeally lucky and you weren't in trouble for something you did earlier in the week, your mom and dad would take you to Friendly's for ice cream...where I was obsessed with the rainbow sorbet and my sister with the Chip Witch.
So next time I'm shakin' it at some wedding and everyone around me is singing along to Ice, Ice Baby, I'm going to remind myself that they'll be the ones in the dark, come next 4th of July...when the curiously fascist graduates of Southern Boulevard Elementary take the stage and sing their nerdy little hearts out---from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters!