On the 4th of July, I had hoped to encounter a night full of stupid cheesy red and blue sequin costumes working at a strip club. Sure enough, I saw one girl in a red sequin bikini and one guy in a terrible American flag shirt. The crowd tends to be a little different on American holidays, but it hadn’t been as weird as I’d hoped. America’s birthday: what a strange thought this year. Just the fact that we’re celebrating is weird to me. We’re in a horrific war. We’re over $9 trillion in debt. We’re fatter than ever.
Unfortunately, these sorts of holidays bring out the sadness in the world and make me dance for it. America is a scary, scary monster in the world. I’ll try not to get too terribly political. I’ll just tell a story:
I danced for an American soldier on the night of the 4th. He had been to Iraq and is going back soon. He hates the media, he tells me. They only report on a limited part of events. He had been involved in gunfire in Iraq. An Iraqi gunman shot at him and his platoon, he told me. The gunman ran into a house and there were children in the house. They shot at the house. He says the media reported the story as though they had been seeking out children to murder.
He says there is no doubt in his mind that he would go MIA if he told the media how bad things were. He would simply disappear. He is positive. “What’s the most horrific thing you’ve ever seen?” I asked him because I love to hear these things. “I saw someone burning alive,” he told me. “How close were you?” I prodded. “As close as you are to me.” Against the loud music of the strip club, we were very close to hear each other; interlocking legs as we had this discussion. I think back on this conversation and I am disgusted. The boy was my age but looked younger than me and had experienced things that no person of any age should experience. He had seen his friends’ body parts scattered in explosions. He had seen flesh bubble and boil in fires. The burning man’s clothing stuck to his flesh and burned with it. I wonder how it smelled. I wonder if it was similar to the smell of the 4th of July barbecues. He heard the burning victim’s futile screams. Witnessing death was as common as a trip to the bathroom. Dead bodies become heaps of matter. Strippers swap Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder stories like other people discuss their Disneyland vacations. I bet his stories would be hard to top.