July 1, 2012

Happy birthday, America


---- — Happy 236th birthday, America. You look good for your age — a few wrinkles, a little thinning on top, perhaps a touch of dementia, but certainly no reason to retire to the old nations home.

I appreciate that you’ve invited me to your birthday party, but I’m having trouble deciding what to give you for a gift. I know you told me just to show up, and maybe pay my taxes, but I’d like to wrap up something nice that you’d really enjoy.

Everyone and their irresponsible teenage brother is giving you fireworks, which are great, but I’d rather give you something a little different.

I know at 10 years the gift is supposed to be tin. Fifteen is crystal, 25 is silver, 50 is gold, 75 is diamond, 200 is a $2 bill, but what is 236?

Are you registered anywhere? Do you have a wish list on Can you give me a subtle hint by gushing over something in the window next time we go to the mall?

I was thinking about getting you a four-team college-football playoff system, but someone already came up with that, so I’ll have to look for something else. It would be great if it could last as long as that Statue of Liberty thing.

By the way, I also promise to make sure that your North American brothers don’t forget the whole day again this year. Even if it’s just a giant bean burrito and another hockey stick, it’s still the thought that counts.

How about a nice picture frame with a collage of photos — my family at a variety of your natural landmarks (Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Disney World, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory)?

Maybe a good book? No, not THE Good Book; I still believe in the separation of church and state. You’ve probably read “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and the “Harry Potter” series. Maybe the “Game of Thrones” series for your Kindle, or something by Mark Twain?

It’s not something you can hold in your hand, but if I could find a way to broker peace in the Middle East, would that earn me an extra-large slice of the birthday cake?

Perhaps I could just find a way to make your health system work; wouldn’t that bring a smile to your face?

I also think I can figure out a way to make a presidential election that currently has a price tag of 12 gazillion dollars cost no more than the Lincoln-Douglas debates (adjusted for inflation). That should be worth a thank-you note, shouldn’t it?

Everyone likes tickets for a good Broadway Show. The wait is a little long for “The Book of Mormon,” but I think we can get you balcony seats for “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

My mom says, when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a gift card. Perhaps a $1 trillion card to iTunes? Or an $800 billion card to Applebees, to help feed the hungry?

How about a fully funded NASA program? It’s the least I can do. Then we could still push the boundaries of outer space, and might be able to keep our brightest scientists away from the cellphone and pharmaceutical industries.

I could develop for you a plentiful, renewable fuel source, something we have more of than any other country. Currently working on harnessing the power of boy bands, light beer and reality shows, though I don’t think my research will be finished by Wednesday.

I could simply sing you a song … maybe even your favorite one. Unlike a number of pop stars and reality-show celebrities, I actually know all the words (“.. and the rockets out there, the bombs bursting with flair, gave proof to the knight, that our flag was not bare”).

I guess I could just get a card. Something not so raunchy, that might make you laugh. Maybe one that plays “Who let the dogs out …” when you open it. I’ll have to give it some more thought.

Happy birthday, America. Hope it’s another good one.