A special gift

No one ever seems to notice that the U.S. has birthday after birthday without ever receiving a proper gift. Imagine how it must feel to be 231 years old and never once having gotten a birthday present – not even a Glen Campbell album that you already own, or a jacket you would never wear.

Anyway, this year, I thought I would get the eldest democracy something for its birthday, but what to give the word’s richest and strongest nation? After much contemplation, I rested on something I’ve rarely if ever given America: the benefit of the doubt.

For a whole week, my plan was to eat its most popular cuisine, enjoy its pastimes, and believe its government. The following is what I learned:


7/4 (Happy 4th of July!): In past years, I’ve spent the holiday working or wandering the empty streets, but this 4th was to be different. I grabbed my wife and hopped in the wagon to go on a shopping excursion. Our mission: to buy a barbecue, some groceries, and host an impromptu cookout.

Since this was the first day of my newly tried-on national enthusiasm, I wasn’t quite ready to go to Wal-Mart, so we settled for (the less odious) K-Mart, and purchased a baseline briquette model. The employees seemed to be in good spirits as they wished us a happy fourth and sent us on our way.

The BBQ itself was a rousing success; we had a blast and ate and drank late into the night. The air was thick with citronella and gunpowder when we finally said our farewells.

Overall, day one was fabulous…perhaps the U.S. isn’t such a bad place after all.



7/5: After my first successful day of loving the U.S., I felt ready for a bigger challenge – I went to Wal-Mart, and it was awesome! A whole row of parking spots just for RVs; are you kidding me!?

I didn’t get what people are always bellyaching about – unlike some bullshit hipster boutique, this store made me feel good about myself. For example, I used to think I was a little paunchy, but compared to a lot of these shoppers? I’m like Jack la-motherfucking-Lane!

One word: Bargains, Bargains, Bargains and the delectable aroma from an in-store Mickey D’s was making me quite hungry. Steph and I browsed through some elastic clothing selections when we realized that nothing in the store is made in the good ole’ U S of A. What tha? We got the hell outta there!

Our indignation didn’t stop us, however, from buying a perfect little outdoor end table for the bargain price of ten bucks – sometimes you have to look out for numero uno.


Day two didn’t turn out as good as day one, but I was still feeling good about the Homeland.

7/6: Whew! My faith was shaken this morning, and I almost returned to my old cynical self when I read an article in the LA Times about a “grim” statistic: it seems that more Afghani civilians have been killed this year by U.S. and NATO forces than by the Taliban.

Of course I found this report a little troubling. I mean, aren’t our KICK ASS troops supposed to be kicking bad guy ass and not innocent ass? Thank goodness I was reassured by the voice of reason as channeled by Western military leaders: “…any comparison of casualties caused by Western forces and by the Taliban is fundamentally unfair because there is a clear moral distinction to be made between accidental deaths resulting from combat operations and deliberate killings.” Alls I’ve got to say is abso-fucking-tively!!!

Anyway, when our KICK ASS troops kill a civilian don’t they like give the family a goat and like a thousand bucks? Think about it…these are people have tons of kids and shit. And a grand is A LOT of money to these people! Most of them make like fifteen cents a day working in sweat shops (which is totally better than not having a job at all). I didn’t even mention how much they love their goats! They use them for cheese and shit, which I think is gross, but whatever, it’s a free country (At least now that our KICK ASS troops freed their asses!).

So look, the bottom line is they give up one kid (and it could be the one with a fucked up eye or only one leg) and they get a new goat (which would be like us getting an unlimited supply of cheese) and a grand (which would be like us getting a mil). Doesn’t sound like such a bad deal to me.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! By the end of day three, I was really starting to get into the rhythm of this patriotism thing.


7/7: After having my faith shaken by that article, today was going to be a piece of cake; I was planning on going to a baseball game. The only problem was that in the LA area one has a choice between two teams: the Dodgers and the Angels. The question was, which one is more American?

The Dodgers are old school, and have a rich history, but Disney owns the Angels. As you may see, a good argument could be made for either team. In the end, a coworker presented a solution: Long Beach has an unaffiliated minor league team, the Armada. This seemed perfect — a bunch of guys playing purely for the love of the game and for little if any money, talk about the American spirit!

The game was a blast; the Armada kicked the Yuma Scorpions’ asses. I feel as though I did my part by coming up with a killer cheer: Yuma…thas! Shout it loud and proud if you don’t get it right away (it should sound like “you…r…muthas!”).



As capped off by a 2AM feast of Big Macs, fries, McNuggets, and cokes, day four was a pure triumph.

7/8: The fifth day was to be my biggest challenge. I woke up at 8AM and went to a church service at Bethany Baptist Church. I have to admit that I chose this particular church because it was listed as “conservative” Baptist, and I was looking for an absolutely indefensible straw man to knock over. Boy, did I blow this one.

I sat there (incredibly hung over, and still reeking of deep fried fat) and agreed with ninety-five percent of what the preacher had to say. He talked primarily about being a good, honest, honorable, and tolerant individual. To cap it all off, the church is sponsoring over a hundred community service events throughout the summer, events like feeding the homeless, cleaning up neighborhoods, and reading to seniors.

I sat there ashamed of myself, a hipster-atheist-liberal who “knows” so much about the sorrow of the human condition but does nothing to change a thing.


Day five was a bit of a humbling experience.

7/9: After reading a Bill O’Reilly column about the threat of Islam to the Civilized world, I was wandering the halls of my office wondering what I could do to help neutralize the threat that terror poses to freedom. Thankfully I came across a pamphlet put out by the Department of Justice called “Terrorism: What Can I Do To Help?”


Through this brochure I learned valuable things like to be suspicious of anyone I’ve never seen before, especially those who are armed with video equipment, ask questions, or seem to be drawing a map. Thank goodness for the government and the tools of protection they posses. I wish GWB could win a third term.

7/10: To cap the week off, the little lady and I spent the day at the Aquarium of the Pacific viewing mudskippers and leafy sea dragons. Seriously, it’s hard to look at such amazing creatures without contemplating whether they could’ve been a random evolutionary accident or whether a divine hand was at play.


It’s easy to understand why so many Americans are ambivalent about such an important issue; it’s definitely one that politicians need to be on the right side of. Seriously, the war, the budget, heath care, the Justice Department – these issues are all child’s play. What the big man upstairs wants, now that shit is important!

Just like the Lord: day seven and my mission was complete.

Those who know me know how down I am on the U.S., and I’m not just talking about the Bush administration either; I’m over the whole deal. Though I did have some good times during my weeklong vacation from (un)healthy skepticism, It’s nice to be back home in my mental and spiritual ghetto. Patriotland was a nice place to visit but…

19 responses to “A special gift”

  1. bryan says:

    leave it to you, scott, to go from cynicism to sincerity, humility to humiliating humor, moving to mortifying, from 0 to 60 just like that. i enjoyed myself every step of the way. i’m not sure which part pushes the envelope more: the idea of you warming up to a baptist sermon or the repeated references to KICK ASS troops. on the latter score, i think it’s only fair to place the larger part of any blame on bad leadership, starting with the moronic war-criminal-in-chief.

  2. Lane says:

    “I’m like Jack la-motherfucking-Lane!”

    I had to read this three or four times. It’s funny and creepy and confusing all at once.

    Yeah wow, did you REALLY go to a church?

    Now that’s Greatwhatsit dedication!

  3. Adriana says:

    Welcome back to skepticsville — but remember, you don’t have to be a patriot to love grilling!

  4. MF says:

    “Patriotland was a nice place to visit but… ”

    You’re still moving north, aren’t you?


  5. lisa t. says:

    So, you were on the patriotic trip when I saw you at the art gallery/music performance last friday? Weren’t you just a little bit offended by that opening act where the guy sang about vaginas? Totally immoral.

  6. cynthia says:

    it is sad when we really see what is behind our country. check out the secret by david icke. a true eye opener, especially when we read about what really happened in 911.

  7. stephanie wells says:

    I have to say, seeing those mudskippers at the aquarium swim fishily up to the banks and then use their legs to crawl onto the land made me want to put a Darwin fish-with-legs on the back of my car. it was like seeing the origins of adaptation.

  8. Dave says:

    6: Agreed. Our extraterrestrial Illuminati overlords and their sinister, faux-jihadi hijinks must be resisted.

  9. Jen says:

    Wow, Scott – I’m honored to have participated in the latter-day festivities of Patriotism: Day 1. I had no idea that I was part of The Grand Experiment – I laughed my Jack-La-Ass off that night!

    Regarding the rest of your week of embedment in Patriotland, you are indeed a brave man. Thank you for the report.

    And to change the subject only slightly, today is the birthday of one T-Wag, who is the Real Deal. A shout out to the loveliest of people on this, or any, planet.

  10. Scotty says:

    Thank you to everyone who took part in my experiment. Especially Steph who was supportive enough to venture into Wal-Mart with me, and Jeremy who documented the BBQ and the ball game.

    Lane: yes, it’s true. The service was unlike any other I’ve ever been to. Being raised Catholic, I’m accustomed to a lot of fire, guilt and fear in an average mass, but this was completely different.

    MF: God and Steph willing (not necessarily in that order), I’m still committed to my dream of emigrating to the Great White North.

    Lisa T: vaginas are usually pink, and therefore politically neutral. Moreover, anyone who thinks they’re immoral is just a big dummy.

    Cynthia: I’m a crackpot and all, but this seems a little funny even to me.

  11. Jeremy says:

    Awesome post! I’m so glad I could be a part of your experience (by the way, I’m hooked on the LB Armada now, so anytime you wanna catch a game, lemme know…)

    And I still can’t believe you woke up on time for that early-morning service, after a night of pop-a-shot (which is pretty darned American too, as far as I’m concerned), Miller High Life, and McD’s.

    Happy bday, T-Wag!

  12. cynthia says:

    Scotty, I thought it was funny until I watched his video on this paticular event and then I was just mad and lied too.

  13. Scotty says:

    JZ: Heck yeah! The Armada all the way! I can’t wait to come up with a cheer for the Fullerton Flier. Perhaps we can shout: “Flick the FOOL-town FLEA-ers!”

  14. Tim Wager says:

    So, Scotty, your 4th of July tirade (fueled, btw, by a bunch of FRENCH wine) against the US and in favor of Canada occurred *during* your week of patriotic fervor? I’d hate to hear what it would have been like if you hadn’t been wearing that Uncle Sam beard and hat get-up in your secret mind.

    I’d love to go see the Armada! I was very jealous when Stephanie told me that you guys were going to a minor league game. Bet they don’t have that shit in Canadaland.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, too.

  15. Dave says:

    12: Cynthia, you are too much, really. I love the comedy potential in a guy who claimed on live television, while wearing a suit made of turquoise, that he was the son of God. And who believes that the Queen Mother, George W. Bush, and Kris Kristofferson are descended from reptillian aliens. And who believes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are totally true, but just not really about the Jews — instead, about the reptillian alien Illuminati. And I love your deadpan delivery. Keep it up.

  16. Rachel says:

    Why is Kris Kristofferson on the shit list? Is it because “Me and Bobby McGee” is just too good to have been written by a human?

  17. Dave says:

    “Sunday Morning Coming Down” . . . from the mothership.

  18. Ed says:

    Congratulatioons Patriot Scott … small steps along the path to assimilation.
    A gift you give to your country is a gift you give to yourself!
    Keep smiling. Ed

  19. Scotty says:

    Ed, thank you, and welcome to our community.