Today is the last day of the first half of 2022 and so far, so good, I say. From now until December 21, the days will be getting shorter, dawn-to-dusk speaking, but first, we have to navigate through July and August when the digital thermometer in my car finds higher numbers to display and I learn to steer with two fingers. Of course, it’s not as if we haven’t been visited by ol’ Sol so far this year, as my sweat glands can attest, but at least the monsoon rains have cooled things off a bit.

I fall back on the old saw: “If you can’t beat the heat, you might as well try to enjoy it,” like, say, join in the big 4th of July bash at the rodeo arena this Monday put on by Tech’s Performing Arts Series and a host of civic-minded sponsors. Food, family, the Fourth and fireworks; the four best F words ever.

I’ll be watching a couple of movies that get me all puffed up with pride. One is the James Cagney musical Yankee Doodle Dandy. You don’t have to be an old fogey to enjoy “You’re a Grand Old Flag” or “I’m a Yankee Doodle Boy.” Also, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” with James Stewart, who says, as he points to the constitution, “Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here. You just have to see them again.”

Anyway, have a happy Fourth no matter what you have going on, but keep in mind what the signing of the Declaration of Independence was all about; splitting off from England and mad George II. It’s a good thing, too, because here in the colonies – besides setting our own rules – we wanted to make up our own vocabulary.

I’ve mentioned before how I watch shows like Doctor Who and other TV programs from across the pond, but often can’t understand what they’re talking about. Some terminology I was already familiar with; lorry, petrol, bonnet, and boot. Or flat, telly, lift and loo.

But I recently learned they call the Big Dipper, the Plough. The second floor is their first floor. Our eraser is their rubber. Main Street is High Street over there. And just so you don’t get confused, our sidewalk is their pavement, and our pavement is their “road surface.” Plus, when they are sick they go to “hospital,” but nurses and doctors work in “the hospital.”

What’s more, I can find no letter “f” in lieutenant.

I’ve learned that a ponce is a poser, a chin wag is a conversation, and bugger off means “go away” (or if you prefer, “sod off”). Nick is stealing, being disrespectful is cheeky, and if you’re having difficulties you’re in seven and six. Knackered is extremely tired; a caravan is a travel trailer, blimey is short for “God blind me,” a quid is one pound sterling and one pound sterling is worth $1.23.

Enough is enough. I’ll just agree with George Bernard Shaw when he said that the U.S. and the U.K. are “two nations divided by a common language.”

To be fair, we’ve got a few idioms of our own in New Mexico that might need translation elsewhere. I’ve had to explain to visitors the meaning of biscochitos, Matanza, fry bread, arroyo, mitote, goat heads, mijo, luminaria, farolito, and that yes, we do have monsoons.

And the words red, green and Christmas have two meanings, so I’m not one to judge. We also have to explain to Easterners virga, vigas and kivas. And Datil rhymes with cattle and Madrid is MAD-drid. So there.

But I digress: I have a reproduction of the original Declaration of Independence, and looking at it I was wondering two things: first, it was written in cursive; and two, it might not be readily appreciated in this day and age. I mean, I’m wondering if the common vocabulary and reading comprehension of today are lower than in 1776.

As written, it is poetic, if not passionate: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Now, I don’t mean to be flippant or smart-alecky, but a re-write in 2022 might go: “Sometimes one group of people decide to split off from another group, and to become an independent country, as the laws of Nature and of God say that they can. But when this happens, if they want other people to respect them, they should explain why they are splitting off.”

Wait. What? Never mind.