My typical Fourth of July was a big neighborhood bar-b-que out on the grass of a friends yard. It was kids running around in swimsuits with sticky Popsicle dripping off their chins. It was groups of friends finding ladders to put fireworks on so they seemed bigger. It was groups of friends melting the plastic top of ladders with the heat from the fireworks. It was the local cop showing how big a bang you could make through out the whole neighborhood if you threw a firework down in the storm sewer (he was such a good example). It was neighbors who would duct tape a firework to an old remote control car and drive the firework down the street while it spewed sparks and flame. Yeah, we knew how to have a good time.
If you live in the United States, your holiday was pretty close to this, maybe minus the neighbor who was intent on burning everyone's ankles with the small car that was on fire. Our holiday wasn't close to this at all. We spent our holiday in Russia, and then finished it up on an Italian cruise ship. It was kind of strange.
When we came back from our long, and exhausting day in Russia, (read about that HERE, HERE, and HERE) we found invitations to an exclusive and private event on board. An event only for Americans I started to get excited. I hadn't seen any other Americans on board other than our partners in travel (and crime) in Europe, The Point Family. There had to be some more if the Costa cruise line was going to throw us all a private party, right?
This is what our private party turned out to be. A lounge singer with an electric keyboard and hors d'oeuvres with punch and champagne. What could be more patriotic than that?
And don't let me forget the marzipan cake they had in the shape of the American flag. (Don't Europeans know that Americans don't like marzipan? Nothing could be less American than a marzipan cake. You want to make an American cake? Call up a store bakery and get the recipe for their Crisco-based, fluffy white frosting. That my friends says American cake.)
They had a recorded instrumental version of the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Of course we had no flag to look at while we listened to the song.
The marzipan cake concoction would have to do.
After the national anthem things started picking up. We had a total of 11 Americans show up for this little shindig. And don't forget Holly, our English-speaking-not-American-but-British host for the party was mingling around. And I finally, FINALLY felt like there was a place in Europe where I could be as loud and funny and annoying as my little American heart desired. Solidarity my American compadres!
This little group did start to emit some laughing and noise (maybe that was just us and Mr. and Mrs. Point) and other cruisers were walking by our party wondering what was going on in there. But they couldn't come in. Why? Because it was private. Americans (and British Holly) only please!
We left the Fourth of July celebration without watching one firework and without eating one hamburger. But we were still buoyed by the glasses of free punch and the marzipan cake which turned out to be quite good if you scraped off the lacquer-like marzipan outside. As we walked out, the European guests who had gathered outside the door parted to let us through. Yeah, we kind of felt like rock stars. For the rest of the trip, we walked a little taller. And every time someone got in our way we thought, 'Excuse me, but don't you know who I am?'