Nina In New York: 4th Of July
A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
By Nina Pajak
I’m upset with the 4th of July this year. What business does it have being on a Wednesday? Wednesday is precisely the day of the week that can be granted as a national holiday without any courtesy days given around it.
It’s always around the 2nd or 3rd of July that I begin to wonder why I didn’t make plans to get out-of-town. There’s something about the Fourth that begs observance in that quaint American way: barbecues, swimming pools and lakes and beaches (preferably swimming pools), lobsters and sunburns and bonfires and sparklers and lying on the grass, eating bright red ice pops in the wholesome, country air. It’s possible I’m describing the J. Crew Summer Collection catalog. But they really nail this season, don’t they?
The Fourth in the city presents a different picture of the holiday. It’s hot. It’s simultaneously packed with people all vying to get in on the same activities and devoid of friends, as most people you know are smarter vacation-planners and bailed the urban steam room for more temperate climes. We do our best to do it up right: picnics in the parks, fireworks over the river, hibachi grills on rooftops. And a whole lotta day drinking at bars offering deals on summer cocktails, heavy on the blue curacao. The fancy pantsers (who aren’t fancy enough to be out in the Hamptons), load onto posh hotel rooftops and boats on the river.
For the last few years, my friends and I have attempted the rooftop/river thing, but we always wind up getting chased inside by aggressive heat and avid fireworks-viewers who camp out with folding chairs and lay claim to prime real estate many, many hours in advance. I just can’t compete with that sort of dedication. So we drink and play cards and find ourselves in a somewhat random collection of friends-who-are-around, friends-of-friends-who-are-around, and the occasional friend-of-the-friends’-friends-who-are-around. It’s low pressure, and everyone has fun, and everyone is old enough that they don’t drink so much they get angry or maudlin (usually). It’s just a day off reserved for the exclusive directive to enjoy the ability to take a day off.
And okay, maybe we watch the fireworks on television. Is that so wrong? I promise not to do it every year. But I’d like not to feel guilty about it anymore.
It’s not really about all that, anyway. Is it?
(Besides, if I left my dog alone with fireworks going off less than a mile away, I think he’d probably defecate all over our bed and then comfort himself by destroying a few dozen pillows.)
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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