Ask Some Girl Who Doesn’t Understand the Cultural Significance of the Fourth of July

by Melissa Chiasson

I’m having my in-laws over for a Fourth of July barbeque tonight. We get along pretty well if we’re just making idle conversation, but the moment things get political, all hell breaks loose. We’re supposed to be celebrating our country – how can I make it clear we’re trying to make it everyone’s holiday, rather than a partisan rallying cry? My husband hates it when I fight with his family, but it seems almost inevitable when we’re celebrating a holiday about American history. Please help!
Weary Wife

Dear Weary,
You might find it cathartic to put all of your exact thoughts about the Fourth of July into a letter and send it to someone who doesn’t know your husband’s family, so that you feel like you’ve expressed yourself without having to start a big to-do. And if that person who doesn’t know your husband’s family should happen to be me, could you get it the letter to me early enough that I can read it through a few times before my neighbor’s party?


I started seeing a new girl a month ago. I really like her, but she has the most horrible taste in movies and TV shows of anyone I’ve ever met. I don’t know if this is shallow, but I just can’t see myself with someone who owns every season of 7th Heaven and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. Am I blowing this way out of proportion? Your thoughts?
Possibly Petty but Definitely Disappointed

Dear Petty,
It’s important to have someone with whom you have some good common ground. That being said, “common ground” is much broader than taste in media. I remember when I dated this guy who wanted to watch Independence Day every summer. I liked him, so I made room for that interest in our yearly traditions, even though I totally don’t understand that movie. Where does the title come from? Why did they feel the need to make it take place on the Fourth of July? Hope that helps.

What’s up, GWDUCSFJ?
My car is piece of crap. It has broken down 5 times in the last year and the maintenance cost is ridiculous. That said, I need it every day just to get to work and run errands. I would buy a new car, but money is tight as it is. Should I buy a new car, or just continue getting this one repaired?
Slow and Furious

Dear Slow,
It sounds like repairing your car every couple months is like using scotch tape to patch up a leaking ship… if a roll of tape cost several hundred bucks! Buying a new car is expensive, but it’s inevitable. There’s also a safety concern here. For now your car’s just breaking down, but what if something serious happens? You could have a fender bender, and suddenly your car lights up like the Fourth of July! Speaking of which, what’s the deal with the fireworks? Are you supposed to be celebrating the fireworks themselves, or are the fireworks honoring something else? Do they symbolize bombs? I’ve heard that it has something to do with the founding fathers, so maybe it represents the thunderstorm that got Ben Franklin to theorize about electricity. Actually that reminds me, you could just get a hybrid! It probably won’t break down as much, and the money you save in gas might just cover the difference in price.

My boss says to prepare for an upcoming trial we’re going to have to work late every day in November, even Veterans Day. But every year my friends have an awesome party and I really don’t want to miss it. I’ve already used up all my personal days and he just won’t listen to me no matter how much I beg! What should I do?
Overworked and Underappreciated

Dear Overworked,
Frankly, I’m a little offended that you’ve missed the meaning of the holiday. Since 11 o’clock on the morning of November 11, 1918 when the final shots were heard on the Western Front marking the end of land warfare in World War I, this day has been almost sacred to the armed forces. Every year, across the world, we take this day to think about and honor the sacrifices of those soldiers who underwent grave physical and psychological injuries, some of which would heal and some of which never could. With that in mind, if all you can think about is getting a couple hours off to eat burgers and drink beer with your friends, I don’t really have anything to say to you. Now if it were the Fourth of July…

–Jordy Greenblatt, Lincoln Sedlacek, and Melissa Chiasson