Mr. wOw reflects on the recent holiday … and our Stars and Stripes
Mr. wOw’s three-day July 4 holiday was … not so hot. I foolishly allowed my sleeping pill prescription to run dry. I realized I was pill-less last Thursday. I made the proper calls but it was too late — everybody was gone. I’d be awake for days. And I was. I do have a more potent pill to encourage sleep, and I took it one night.
Alas, this pill is so potent it leaves me in Marilyn-land: “Miss Monroe was called to the set at 9 am. She did not appear until 3 pm. Work ceased at 4 pm.” (Also, this medication doesn’t provide a particularly easy sleep. Even for Mr. wOw, who only gets about three full hours anyway.)
I bumped into furniture all day and was even slower than usual to pick up on intricate questions such as “what would you like for dinner?” (B. was patient when I kept insisting I would not allow the overture begin before Leonard Bernstein and Rock Hudson took their seats at Carnegie Hall. )
Anyway, I was in a very irritable state as I watched various newscasts on the 4th. I came across one that especially irked me. The guy talking — a Republican politician — wore a great big gaudy Fourth of July tie. I mean, big.
Now, I have to tell you — and you won’t be surprised — but Mr. Wow is not a great flag-waver. I don’t weep at “The Star Spangled Banner” and don’t insert “American” into every conversation. But I do respect the flag of this country. And I have never understood why it is tolerated by so-called “patriots” when that flag is disrespected — represented on ties, T-shirts, ass-patches on your jeans, hats, tattoos, skirts, shoes and a vast array of jewelry.
“What is the matter with these people?!” I shrieked, finally shaking off my exhaustion and medicinally-induced semi-coma. “Don’t they see they are disrespecting the flag they claim to love? What the hell is that thing doing around his neck? Is anybody aware that there is a Flag Code? Real Federal laws about how the flag should be displayed — and it ain’t on a cushion or a ring or a pair of underpants.”
B. quickly agreed and brought me a bowl of vanilla ice cream, knowing only that could soothe me.
But I wasn’t hallucinating. There is a federal code pertaining to the display of the flag — it tells how the image of the flag best serves the patriots who say the Stars and Stripes means so much.
After I’d calmed down — B. added chocolate syrup to the ice cream — I recalled an incident years ago with a young acquaintance of mine. It was in the days immediately following the events of 9/11. Mr. wOw was stressfully unemployed at that time, and prickly. I met my new-ish friend downtown. He was wearing an American flag bandana.
“Uh… what is that on your head?”
“It’s a bandana.”
“Yeah. Why don’t you take it off. It’s really offensive.”
“Offensive? It’s the flag, man.”
“Yeah. It’s the flag. And it shouldn’t be sucking sweat off your head. Take it off and put it away.”
“Hey, man. You got something against the flag?”
“On the contrary. When I think of the flag, and I’m feeling especially glad to live in America, I envision it flying high over my head, free and unfettered. Not used as a rag to catch the grease from your hair, which you apparently haven’t washed in a week. Now. Just. Take It. Off.”
“And don’t call me ‘man.’”
Mr. wOw is rarely so forceful. Or so … American. But only three days had passed since the towers had fallen, and even though the “Dead or Alive” chest-pounding of the Bush administration had already wearied me, I had my standards. And this kid wasn’t going to get the better of me.
He took it off.