So I arrive home yesterday around about noon, after a quick, rainy two days in Asheville (trip summary: no, you can’t get into the Biltmore Winery for free — you have to pay the 39 bucks for the entire estate tour even if all you want to do is sample some of their overpriced wine). I turn on to my street, and this is what I see:
What’s wrong with this picture? Ignoring for a moment the fact that I live in a rather bland, suburban subdivision, what’s wrong is that the street is lined with little American flags. There’s even one right at the end of my walkway. I don’t know whether to feel Proud To Be An American, or pissed off that someone in my neighborhood assumed everyone would want to display a flag this weekend. If I don’t want a flag, what does that say about me? Am I an evildoer? If I leave the flag there, does that mean I’m a supporter of the war in Iraq, a die-hard Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh conservative, a pro-life, pro-school-prayer, anti-Clinton/Kerry/Liberal Media Conspiracy, pro-NRA sellout?
Then I notice that a couple of houses on my street don’t have flags. Did the flag-planting Samaritan just run a few flags short, or did my neighbors actually remove their flags in a silent protest against suburban conformity? After we unpack the car, send the kids upstairs to the showers, have a glass of wine, I walk down to the curb to take a closer look at the flag:
Aha! It was as I expected, the “gift” of one of our thoughtful local real estate agents (though she wasn’t thoughtful enough to use a permanent marker). Apparently the message is “when you decide to sell your house to escape the ignorant patriotism of your neighbors, why not call the agent who placed an uninvited advertisement on your front walkway?”
You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to leave that flag out there, only my flag will symbolize what I stand for: freedom of speech, freedom to teach evolution in public schools, freedom to disagree with the government and not be treated like a terrorist, freedom to do what I want with my own body and for others to do what they want with theirs (no matter how ugly that tattoo looks). Besides, the flags actually look kinda cute, lined up like that.
But come July 5, that sucker’s gone.