Friday is Rhode Island Independence Day, marking the moment when our forebears became the first residents of the Colonies to renounce allegiance to the British Crown. Details are murky, but according to some historians of ill repute, Rhode Island patriots gathered in a dim pub and, fired up on casks of ale and the demon rum, collectively asked, “What have the British ever done for us?”
One voice spoke out meekly:
“The ale house?”
“Right. Fine. But except for the ale house, what have the British ever done for us?”
“Very well. Shakespeare and the ale house.”
“Dictionaries. Of course. That goes without saying.”
“Clearly. Conceding the points on shorthand, Shakespeare, dictionaries and the ale house, what have the British ever done for us?”
About an hour later, after the patriots had exhausted the positive benefits of British rule, they all agreed to revolt and, following a few historical anomalies in the ensuing years, Rhode Island, as we know it, was born.
So the question is: How should we celebrate Rhode Island Independence Day?
1) Take the day off. As currently constituted, Rhode Island Independence Day, unless it falls on a weekend, is a working day for a majority of Rhode Islanders. But how can we all exuberantly assert our independence when we are working for The Man?
2) Rename it. As holiday names go, Rhode Island Independence Day has all of the poetry of Administrative Professionals Day. Massachusetts figured it out. They have Patriots Day (celebrated with a little road race in Boston, a skirmish between Minutemen and Lobsterbacks on the Lexington Green and a morning baseball game at Fenway). So why not Rogue’s Day, a day of roguery to commemorate the subversive dissident in all of us?
3) Renounce all things British for a day. That means no listening to old Beatles, Stones or Who albums. No catching up on “Dr. Who” DVDs. No bangers ’n‘ mash for lunch. No bitters after work. No checking on Premier League scores. No following Ricky Gervais on Twitter. No practicing your fake Cockney accent while shaving in front of the mirror.
4) Convert Rhode Island Shore Dinner Halls into all-you-can-eat May Breakfast buffets.
5) Anchor something somewhere.
6) Pay bills in wampum.
7) Attend Fifestock, an all-day Fifeapalooza of fife and drum music at Fort Adams.
8) Invent a Roger Williams drinking game. (Believe me, this is harder than it sounds.)
9) Moon Connecticut
10) Go quahog tipping.