Smell that in the air? It’s that sweet yet salty aroma, flavorful yet bitter and with just a hint of formaldehyde. It’s the smell of ejaculate and regret (not unlike my bed sheets) with a side of cheese fries. It’s the scent of burning crosses and the fiery passion passed down by our forefathers and their mistresses.

That’s the smell of America, baby. And we’ve just finished celebrating the best damn day to be an American of them all: the Fourth of July. It’s a holiday so important we need four days just to recover from it—a time known as “July 4th Weekend.”

Some of you may be familiar with July 4th, probably because it’s the day that Jesus came down and proclaimed us winners, past and present, of a worldwide game no one knew they were playing. But we knew. He handed out guns and right-wing conservatism as our prizes and quickly fled, because as impressive as he sounds in the Good Book, our Messianic friend just looks like a dirty hippie in real life. And since we spend 365 days a year kicking ass and taking names, sometimes we just need some time for ourselves. We need a day off to celebrate our origins and the people who made this beautiful and morbidly obese country possible. We need July 4th.

Every year Chicago holds a weeklong “Taste of Chicago,” an event which is just what it sounds like—a literary celebration of the long-standing traditions of local librarians. And by “literary” I mean “drunken” and by “local librarians” I mean “sweaty drunkenness.” Thousands upon thousands of rednecks, minorities, and incredibly misled tourists pour into a park that violates every law of physics by becoming smaller as the week wears on.  I’ve been told the perfection of our kingdom began since dinosaurs have walked the Earth. For some reason, those beasts that lived on the hallowed ground that would soon become ours grew bigger and stronger than the others. They were kind of loud, and roared in a pointedly ignorant way. Also, they made fun of herbivores mercilessly. Since I believe in creationism this story rings false, but it’s good to know that even the heathens who haven’t yet found the way to God still understand that our country was destined for greatness.

The more I think about it, this shitshow event perfectly reflects the values of the Juggernaut (my little pet name for our empire). The Taste offers a variety of heart-stopping treats from across the world, foods that we’ve blatantly stolen from other countries and more than that, blown up to absurd proportions and offered at half the price. In other words, progress. The Taste offers everything from beef to ribs, hamburgers to meat hash, corn-flavored pork to pork-flavored corn. In other words, variety. It also brings together people from all walks of life

Throw in cheap alcohol and infrequent infighting and you’ve got the perfect metaphor for the United States. Better yet, throw in the people who will laugh at this article and then you might have the best metaphor of them all. Because sure, America’s got its problems (like simply being too fucking awesome), but our ability to laugh at ourselves and everything else too gives us an edge that most people don’t understand. We’re like the cousin in your family that makes you giggle hysterically and then cry just as quickly. Our capacity for switching between lightheartedness and dead seriousness in an instant is unrivaled, and that makes us unpredictable.

We’re the best of the worst, the worst of the best, and we’ve got so much potential and just as much laziness to match it. We’re the land of untold wealth and broken dreams. We’re every bad stereotype you’ve ever heard, and more progressive than you’ll ever imagine.

We’re America. Deal with it.