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An All-American Fourth of July

Country Roads

As I left the post office I saw a familiar pickup in the parking lot ̶ a rusty Studebaker pickup. And behind the wheel sat my cantankerous old buddy, Ebenezer Griper.

“Howdy, Eb!” I shouted when I pulled up next to his pickup. “What brings you to town this afternoon?”

“Aw, I had to mail some letters and get some feed for my goats. Nothin’ worse than a hungry old goat, you know. Speaking of old goats, how are you doing?”

“I’m fine,” I replied with grin. “So, have you purchased your fireworks for the Fourth of July?”

Eb scratched his chin and replied, “Naw, I’ll just sit around and watch Hilda shoot off her mouth.”

“Eb,” I scolded, “you’re nasty. Hilda’s a good woman. You don’t deserve her.”

“Yeah, I know,” Eb mumbled, “she reminds me every day.”

“So, what are you really doing on the Fourth?”

“Oh, we’ll probably take in the parade in town and then enjoy a good old fashioned Fourth of July picnic on the farm. Hilda’s sister, Lena, and her husband, Ole, and their family are all coming down from Minnesota for the weekend.”

“Ole and Lena, huh? What’s for dinner, lutefisk?”

“Naw, Ole is Italian but he loves wieners and sauerkraut so that’s probably what we’ll have for dinner.”

“Let me get this straight ̶ Ole from Minnesota is Italian but he prefers German food?”

“Yeah, unless my niece, Soo Ling, is cooking. She makes great French food. Ole and I really enjoy her bouillabaisse.”

“Your Italian brother-in-law has a daughter with a Chinese name and she’s a great French cook. Right?”

I could tell Eb was running out of patience. “Well, Soo Ling is Korean. She was adopted and, yes, she’s a great French cook. You haven’t eaten anything, though, until you’ve had some of the wonderful Greek food her husband, Boris, makes.”

I was confused. “Hold on a minute, Eb. Your niece, Soo Ling, the great French cook, is married to a guy named Boris who cooks Greek food. So is Boris Russian or Greek?”

“Neither, he’s Brazilian. Man, you have to try his baklava ̶ it melts in your mouth. It’s almost as good as the sopapillas Ole and Lena’s daughter, Ingrid, makes.”

“And Ingrid’s nationality is…”

Eb looked at me with a stare of incredulity. “Samoan,” he replied matter-of-factly. “She was adopted, too.”

“And your Samoan niece, Ingrid, makes a terrific Mexican dessert?”

“Yep. Really delicious.”

I was silent for a few seconds, trying to get everything straight. Finally, I had to ask, “Eb, what’s your ethnic background?”

“Irish, but what difference does it make?”

“Well, none, of course, but it sounds like your family is a real American melting pot.”

“Well, Ole’s the one with the pot. He could stand to lose a few pounds. Say, you’ve got to come out to the farm and hear Ingrid’s husband, Klaus, yodel.”

“And Klaus is…”

“Portuguese, dummy. He’s a real nice guy.”

“I hope to meet him some day.”

“And my nephew, James, is serving tea and crumpets around three o’clock. Can you join us?”

“And James is… British?”

“No, James is American… African-American.”

“Eb, families don’t come any more American than yours. I’ll be there! What can I bring?”

“Oh, just some cherry bombs. Hilda’s going to be busy.”

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