Tell Us About Your Messiest 4th of July

Illustration for article titled Tell Us About Your Messiest 4th of July
Photo: Getty (Getty Images)

I consider the 4th of July to be the Super Bowl of American holidays, in that everyone is drunk and dumb, grown men tend to get injured, and I can’t wait for it to be over. The main difference is that there isn’t a half-time show where Shakira shows us how it’s done. And because the 4th of July is on Saturday this year, I expect the festivities to fully ignore the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. It will be a nightmare, and you can tell us all about what went down next week, if you so please. Until then, I want to know about your messiest 4th of July celebrations. Did you get arrested? Did your Uncle Earl? Did he blow off a pinkie trying to shoot a bottle rocket? Did you manage to avoid the regular activities and still engage in some sort of petit disaster? Please, I must know in the comments below.


But first, let’s check out last week’s winners. These are your most disastrous summer vacations:

Maria-Poppins, this truly sucks:

My family never went on vacations but I spent many a summer and Christmas in the motherland with my grandma. The summer I turned 11 she and a gaggle of female relatives decided to go to Cancun/Isla Mujeres. She invited me and my best friend at the time. We were beyond excited. About a week before the trip I notice a weird pus bubble on my chest and showed my parents. Turns out one of my siblings brought home the chicken pox. I am about 7 years older than they so their symptoms came and went. My trip was immediately canceled (my poor friend) and my life ruined for about 3 weeks. Turns out, those assholes (my parents, God love them) purposely kept me from getting the virus when I was younger but had no idea how much worse it is for you as you get older. They were EVERYWHERE. My scalp, my face, behind my knees, my fact I couldn’t sit on the toilet without popping one. Oatmeal baths and reclining in a dark room became my routine. I was so depressed and embarrassed. Towards the end, my friend came with flowers and did her best to not look horrified when I came out of my room all ghost-like and covered in half deflated pus spots. I’m glad there is a vaccine for it now bc no child should have to go through that. It was almost 25 years ago and I still call my parents out on it.

ProudHamerican, I’m including your story because this is a mundane disaster, one so many of us can relate to:

My mom and dad thought it would be fun to schedule our time in Old Forge for a couple nights and then “wing it” the final two nights. Except that it was August, in the Adirondacks, and we were three tweens in a minivan with air conditioning that didn’t work, and we kept driving up to hotels with “No Vacancy” signs on them. We drove around New York State (down from Old Forge, near Howe’s caverns, through Cooperstown, etc.) for eight hours until we found a hotel with a vacancy. We finally landed at a motel near Magic Forest but not before we almost killed one another.

sunshine bear in a world of grey, this is a nightmare:

One school holidays, we were out in the boat at the islands. Did my usual sunscreen before swimming and playing, and everything is grand. Mam calls us out of the water for lunch, then reminds me to ‘screen up again before going back in the water. Y’all. The sunscreen reacted somehow, and BOILED the skin on my shoulders. We thought it was just a bad sunburn at first, but the trip to the local (Rural) hospital, followed by an ambulance ride to a city hospital 160km away confirmed 2nd and 3rd degree burns. That was over 20 years ago and there is still light scarring on my shoulders.

Worst Christmas break ever.

Seabassy, I’m only including this story because your fellow Pissing Contest loyalists seem to love it. I, for one, cannot stand for Whataburger slander:

On a road trip from the great white north down to Texas, my family of 4 stopped at a Whataburger for dinner after waiting at a family-style restaurant to be served, and instead ignored, for 45 minutes. My parents are brown and my sibling and I are white-passing — we were in northern Texas and it was one of my first tastes of outright discrimination.

Anyway, we ate the Whataburger and checked into our cheap motel, where all 4 of us shared a room. Around 2 a.m. my sister wakes us with the sound of violent vomiting. My guts start to hurt, too, but I try to hold it to no avail. My illness is out the backend, and I didn’t make it to the bathroom. My parents spring up and try to help my barfing sister while I shit my pants, and THEY start hurling. Four people, 1 toilet, 1 tub/shower, 1 sink.

We make a big ole stinky humiliating mess and try to clean up after ourselves between heaves. Then the power goes out around 4 a.m. My dad opens the door for fresh air and to look outside and it is pitch black as far as the eye could see.

He said something about the devil being in north Texas and it is time to leave. My parents left every piece of cash and change they had on them for the housekeeping, knowing the mess they were leaving behind. Instead of going to our intended destination to see family in south Texas, we headed back north.

This is a prized family story we tell at gatherings, but no one seems to appreciate it as much as the 4 of us.


Horrify your fellow commenters below.

URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.


Muqaddimah (call me Muck)

This is actually a messy 1st of July (Canada Day) story from back in my youth. A buddy and I drove up to a lake/beach area to meet up with friends and spend the day doing the usual summer weekend stuff (a fair amount of beer was involved, with all empties going into the trunk of my buddy’s car - more on that later). The day went swimmingly - nothing messy yet!

Driving home, my buddy goes way too fast over a hump in the loose-gravel road, spins out, and the car ends up pointing in the wrong direction, clinging to the steep slope leading down to the ditch below, with one back wheel hooked on the road edge and the other up in the air. My buddy is lying crumpled on the driver’s side door with me on top of him. There is a moment of dead silence after the dust clears and he shuts the car off, and then we do the mutual “You OK?” thing. We’re fine; so things are just a little bit messy at this point.

We managed to climb up and out of the car and were standing on the road surveying the scene. Buddy says “I need to get something out of the trunk in case the cops show up.” Uh oh. He opens the trunk and digs around until he finds six sausage-like, plastic-wrapped things that look much like this:

Readers with experience in road construction might know that these were not sausages but “emulsion explosives” used to blast through bedrock, and he asks me to run over to the treeline and hide them. I do this, laughing like an idiot the entire time, because I find this all to be rather amusing. As I was returning to the road, a few carloads of concerned passersby began stopping to see whether we needed help. There were moms, dads, kids, old folks - probably a dozen people in a circle discussing the situation.

The newly-formed group figures we can pull the car out, and a guy with a half-ton and a chain offers to try. It doesn’t work because of the angle of the car and the fact that one of the back wheels is hooked on the road edge. So we decide to jack that corner of the car up to get the wheel clear, then pull with the chain (and just hope nobody was decapitated when the jack came shooting out, I guess - we didn’t really think it all the way through). The crowd watches with growing dismay as my buddy starts shoveling a shocking number of loose beer bottles out of the trunk so he can get to the jack. After about 4 or 5 dozen bottles are removed, (there’s at least that many still in there), some of our new friends begin to head back to their cars, tsking and shaking their heads (getting messier). My buddy then yells a happy “aha!” and produces not the jack, but a bottle of Johnnie Walker. He unscrews the cap and has a slug, then offers the bottle to me. I hesitate (I’m not an animal), but decide the situation does call for a little bracer. After having a snort, I considerately hold the bottle out to the remaining crowd with a raised-eyebrows “anyone?” look on my face. That was probably a mistake. There are one or two polite headshakes, but virtually all of our new friends just stare at me in open horror and start giving each other “we should probably get out of here NOW” looks. I was a bit offended, thinking “how judgmental - it’s not like they know about the high explosives hidden in the trees or anything.” Thank god this was pre-cell phone era, or someone would almost certainly have called the police. Two guys stayed, we pulled the car out without killing anyone when the jack came shooting out, we made it home safely, and I lived to become a solid, responsible, law-abiding citizen. But that day was messy. (Sorry this was so long, but I feel better for having got it off my chest.)