People are pigs.
Actually, that's probably a bit too harsh. I take it back and offer my since)re apology to pigs everywhere.
My farmer friends tell me that pigs are actually quite clean animals. The only reason we think of them as dirty is that, like Joan Rivers and the vast majority of supermodels, they possess no natural sweat glands -- therefore, they're forced to wallow in the mud to keep their bodies from overheating. But otherwise, pigs are fairly tidy animals.
Plus, they give us bacon.
Humans, on the other hand, are a bunch of slobs. And they provide us with precisely zero delicious breakfast meats.
Now that our annual fireworks fetish -- the "21 Days of Perilous Patriotism" between Independence Day and Pioneer Day -- is quickly fading into memory, all that's left is the unpleasant aftermath. And honestly, it sickens me.
Look, I've made no secret of the fact that I don't particularly care for any of the silly traditions surrounding the July holidays. Fireworks are Dangerous with a capital D, and parades are about as exciting as watching competitive tai chi. However, I also understand that there are "parade people" and "fireworks people," just like there are "cat people" and "people who watch TMZ."
I get that, and don't begrudge a fellow American his or her odd hobbies.
Still, I do have a few choice words for those of you do-it-yourself pyromaniacs who love to spend your hard-earned cash on fireworks. Namely: "Dudes. Please do the rest of us the courtesy of cleaning up after yourselves."
If past years are any indication, over the next few weeks I'll find a handful of spent bottle rockets in my yard. Not a big deal -- I'll just pick them up, or accidentally mulch them with my lawn mower, and that's that. It's the price of living in the greatest country since Australia.
But the kind of fireworks garbage I came across the other day in a church parking lot was enough to make a grown man cry. Dozens upon dozens upon dozens of charred paper, cardboard and plastic rockets, firecrackers and assorted sparklers, strewn over a large section of asphalt.
Frankly, I'm ashamed to be an American.
For the most part, the folks who light fireworks in the street in front of their homes have the common decency to clean up their messes. They live there, after all. But for many -- who went to, say, a public park or a vacant lot to celebrate our country's independence -- it would appear they feel no such responsibility to clean up after themselves.
Seriously, how difficult can it be to bring along a broom and dustpan and sweep up all your leftover junk?
It brings to mind another, more serious litter problem in this country -- cigarette butts. Admittedly, this is a huge pet peeve of mine, but it's just difficult to fathom the numbers of smokers who justify simply throwing their butts on the ground.
To those of you who actually use the ashtray in your vehicle, or a bottle partially filled with water, or some other type of containment system -- thank you.
But to those of you smokers who can't be bothered to take responsibility for your filthy littering habits?
You're certainly no pigs.
And speaking of bacon ...
I was in the grocery store the other day, walking down the candy/chips/nuts aisle, when I spotted the mother of all snack foods -- bacon-flavored sunflower seeds. You heard that right, you can now purchase sunflower seeds in "Sizzlin' Bacon" flavor.
OK, I'm proud to be an American again.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.