Archive for the ‘America’ Category

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And on this, the Fourth of July

4 July, 2007, Wednesday

I’m reminded of something that happened a good 30 years ago. I was a kid, 8 or 9 years old, and I was in the living room with my mom as she was reading the paper. In it, there was some sort of contest or invitation to readers to write in (which required significant effort in those days) and describe what America meant to us.

My mom read the announcement aloud and I, sounding just like the young kid I was, immediately started listing the many things about America that I liked and concluded my list by saying something that I’d heard many times: “And we’ve got to fight to be free!”

My mother, although usually a very kind, encouraging woman, said, “We’re already free!” in a sharp tone of voice that made me feel embarrassed to have been caught talking about something I didn’t fully understand.

It’s a memory that’s haunted me ever since. Not in a way that requires me to sit on a therapist’s couch once a week, or anything. It’s just something that kinda drifts through my mind once in a while. As it did this morning on the drive home from work.

And having thought about it again, I now think I was right all along. It’s the “Oh, we’re already free” attitude that has gotten us into the mess we’re in now. We’re already free, so I can just sit back and watch my soaps, play my Wii, drink my beer.

One by one by one by one, by one, our bits of self rule, our little moments of not being bothered by anyone or anything, our ability to just wander where we want, do what we want are slowly being stripped away from us and replaced by one ridiculous rule after another.

I recently bought a new car and left my old one sitting in the driveway a little over a year, letting everything – plates, insurance, gasket seals – lapse. As is my right, as an American, to do.

But I had to leave the plate on the car as it slowly rusted because, well, that’s the law. The car was in my driveway, it was not being driven, and the land it was parked on is owned by me. But the law says all vehicles must have a license plate on them.

Fine. Totally ridiculous. But fine.

A friend told me he needed a car. I offered to sell my old car to him for next to nothing and picked up the phone to start making arrangements to have it towed to a shop to be checked over (my friend is a gay man who does not know anything about car engines because car engines have nothing to do with dance music).

The towing company says the plates have to be current before they will tow it.

Okay. Fine. It’s irritating, but fine, whatever.

I go to the Secretary of State (Michigan’s version of the DMV) and they inform me that they will not give me a new plate or tags until the car has insurance on it.

And now I’m pissed off enough to tell my friend that I’m withdrawing my offer.

The car was not worth very much to begin with. And it certainly wasn’t worth enough to spend a whole lot of energy and money to get rid of it. My friend understood and was able to find a less-troublesome vehicle to buy. And I donated mine to charity (an act for which my government will pat me on the head with a tax break – such a benevolent, kindly master).

And all that just to have it towed less than 1/4 of a mile to the mechanic on the corner.

A mere 20 years ago, it would not have been such a headache to sell a car privately. I shudder to think what it will be like 20 years from now. If we are even still allowed to sell vehicles privately amongst each other, that is.

Happy Fourth, everyone.

And fuck you, Mom.

(…oh for christ’s sake relax, it’s a joke – I adore my mother. Despite the beatings and mental abuse.)