Independence Day by Richard Ford:
From where I stop out on the shoulder for a look, nothing yet seems inspired or up to parade pitch. Several tissue-paper floats are not yet manned or hitched up. The centerpiece Haddam High band has not appeared. And marshals in hot swallowtail coats and tricorne hats are hiking around with walkie-talkies and clipboards, conferring with parade captains and gazing at their watches. All in fact seems timeless and desultory, most of the participants standing alone in the sun in their costumes, looking off much as the fantasy ballplayers did in Cooperstown yesterday, and much, I’m sure, for the same reasons: they’re bored, or else full of longing for something they can’t quite name.
I decide to make a fast swerve through the lot entrance, avoid the whole parade assemblage and continue back out onto 27 toward town, satisfied that I’ve glimpsed behind the parade’s façade and not been the least disappointed. Even the smallest public rigmarole is a pain in the ass, its true importance measurable not in the final effect but by how willing we are to leave our usual selves behind and by how much colossal bullshit and anarchy we’re willing to put up with in a worthwhile cause. I always like it better when clowns seem to try to be happy.