Editor's note: This story originally appeared in 2017
On the last Monday of every May, Americans get a day off work to pay tribute to the millions of men and women who’ve died while serving in the U.S. military. For some, it’s a deeply somber occasion. But for many more Americans, it’s an opportunity to head to the nearest body of water, fire up the grill, and party their fucking faces off. And while nothing screams “BORN IN THE USA” like slipping into a star-spangled Speedo and chugging cans of patriotic camo Budweiser until your liver explodes, it completely misses the point. Which is why veterans usually roll their eyes when someone wishes them a “Happy Memorial Day!”
We’re here to help you avoid being that guy.
Below you’ll find the ultimate list of things you should definitely not say to a veteran on Memorial Day. (Or to anyone on any day.) Read it. Memorize it. And get ready to impress all of your cool veteran friends by managing to get through the entire holiday without tipping your hand as a nasty civilian:
1. “Hey, you’ve got something on your shirt.”
Note: In the event that the veteran you are speaking to does, in fact, have a stained shirt (even solemn vets like mustard and ketchup), this is a completely fine and decent thing to say. However, if the veteran looks down to discover that they do not have anything on their shirt, and you flick them on the face with your finger and yell “Got ya,” you’re an asshole. Shame on you.
2. “It burns like hell when I pee.”
I hate to break it you, buddy, but it sounds like you’ve contracted a sexually transmitted disease, which is not something you should be advertising willy-nilly. So, unless the veteran you are speaking to is a doctor, or someone you're considering sleeping with, do not let these words leave your mouth. Try talking about sports, or a great movie you just saw.
3. “Mm, daddy likey.”
Only a handful of people on Earth can get away with referring to themselves as “daddy,” and chances are you’re not one of them. There are a million other ways to express satisfaction that don’t make you sound like a creep. For example, you can say, “Wow, this gluten-free spaghetti carbonara is absolutely delicious. Mind emailing me the recipe?” This will let the veteran you’re speaking to know that you a) enjoy their cooking, and b) are open to trying new and exotic things. It could also be the start of a great friendship.
4. “Let’s pull our dicks out for Harambe.”
This would’ve been a totally appropriate thing to say to a veteran a year ago, when the cold-blooded murder of that cherished silverback gorilla (may he rest in peace) shook the world to its core. But in 2020? Get with the times, amigo. We’re better than that now. Exposing yourself in public is not just disgusting, it’s also a crime. Maybe try pulling your head out of your ass instead.
5. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls.”
Why the fuck would you say this? First of all, it makes zero sense. You can’t chase a waterfall. It’s a stationary thing. Second, it’s a quote from a TLC song that debuted in 1995. Yes, the group was well ahead of its time. And, yes, “Waterfalls” ranks among the greatest pop ballads of the late 20th century, overlaying funky-fresh rhythms with cautionary tales about life on the mean streets. Is your name Left-Eye, Chilli, or T-Boz? Go right ahead, sir. If not, don’t offend a veteran like this on Memorial Day.
6. “Hey, I’ve got something in my van that I’d really like to show you.”
Nice try, freak. Also, who are you? Why are you at my Memorial Day BBQ? Is that a banana in your pocket? Oh, wow, it is. Well, yes, thanks. That’s very generous of you. Mm, this is delicious. What’s that? You have more in your van? Okay, sure, I don’t see any harm in that. You seem like a perfectly normal guy. And boy am I a sucker for a good banana. You too? Of course you are. You have a tattoo of Harambe on your forearm. Let’s go to your van. Thanks for supporting the troops!