"And so you see, Oliver," Bob said in his professor's voice, the one he uses when he's lecturing me about something he believes I need to know. "What you and I and the rest of the animals living in the United States perceive as big and scary noises, booming sounds if you will, are really just joyous outbursts, expressions of gratitude that humans living in America feel for the freedoms... the liberties... they experience as citizens of this great nation. Does that answer your question?"
"Huh? What was that?" I grunted. I'd completely forgotten that I'd even asked Bob a question. Bob and I had both been drawn out onto our respective decks by the delicious smells of bacon, and ham and other fine edibles wafting up to our balconies from the barbecue pits in the nearby park. Now, normally I like nothing better than the smell of bacon frying on a griddle, but food smells coming from the park this early in the morning, and on a summer morning at that, can only mean one thing. Those terrifying booms and flashes of light are coming again tonight as soon as the sun goes down. Oh, how I fear those loud noises and those bright, fiery lights. Yet, humans, Miss. R. included, seem to enjoy these monstrous night lights. She actually walks out onto the dock near our apartment so she can get a closer look at them. A closer look! Can you imagine? That's what I had asked Bob. What was with those loud, scary light shows that happen every year around this time and why do humnas try to lure me to outside with the tantalizing smell of hotdogs and hamburgers? That's when Bob had launched into a totally, as far as I can tell, unrelated history lesson about the War for Independence and the Constitution and other such things. I tried to follow along at first, but I was sidetracked by the sight of potato chip bags being carried past my deck and into the park where they would be sadly out of my reach.
"Oliver, I asked you if my explanation answered your question," repeated Bob.
"Um, yeah, sure it did," I lied, more confused now than ever. "You know, Bob. One word you used really did catch my attention. Independence. That means freedom, right?"
"Indeed it does." Bob sounded pleased with himself, as though he were responsible for my learning something new.
"Well, if this holiday is all about freedom, why did Miss R. put up that insulting gate in our front door?"
"You mean the 'Baby Gate,?'" Bob snickered, clearly enjoying himself. "Well, that gate is meant to keep babies, ummm I mean, mischeivous felines, from escaping places. You see, Oliver, it gets hot this time of year, but Miss R. can never open her front door to let the cool air from the air-conditioned hallways into her apartment because you always shoot out of there like a fat, orange bullet. Now with the Baby Gate in place you are safely confined to your quarters. Brilliant! I must say, it seems your human is capable of some logical thoughts after all, my dear friend."
"Well, if you ask me, it's totally iconic....being trapped in an apartment by a Baby Gate on the same day the rest of the country celebrates freedom."
"I think you mean ironic, my friend, but then do you really want to be let outside. After all, I think I see someone about to light one of those fiery things now."
"Later, Bob," I said as I squished my puffy self through that too tiny pet door and ran for cover under the safety of Miss R.'s bed.