Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Battle of the Flags

"We need a flag," I said noting this on my To Do list.
"For flag football?" Mr. Wonderful said sipping his espresso.
"No, a U.S. flag to fly."
"What about the football?" 

Since moving into The House, I'd noticed that everything had its season. Football's ran every weekend from September to January, basketball's from January to May and soccer's 365 freakin' days a year. Flags too had a season. They came out on Memorial Day, returned for Flag Day on June 14 and reigned supreme on Independence Day. I had to get a flag.  

Why the sudden flag pressure? The neighbors. Every day Harold hoisted his flag and every afternoon he took it down again. As a veteran of the War of 1812, he should fly a flag every day. Every veteran should. And as a stay at home retiree he had the time to hoist and unhoist a flag every day. But on Old Glory's special days, he went flag overboard by pushing 100 mini flags among the petunias in his garden beds and along his driveway like a special landing strip for Air Force One. I had to get a flag. 

I went to the big box store and scoured their flag department. They had oodles of flags that were so cheap the promotion read: "Buy one flag get 115 flags FREE!" How could they make flags so cheaply? Looking at the label I realized they'd been made in the United States of China. Hmmm. Although I could have out-flagged Harold with a couple multi packs of these China-made flags, I wanted my flag made in America. I had to get a flag.

I headed to the mall and found a pop-up specialty shop just for flag season. They had all sorts of American-made flags. They had big ones, little ones, tall ones, small ones. All of them were mounted on a pole and were red, white and blue but they were missing something. What made a flag one that would outpace Harold's? It was the little ornament on top of the flag's pole like what had been in every classroom at my grade school. A superior flag needed a hood ornament. I had to get a flag.

I jumped in the car and it drove me--autopilot--to the hardware store--again. Among the nuts, bolts and toilet bowl plungers I found the flags--all of them were American, red, white and blue and topped with an eagle hood ornament. That's it! Now I will beat Harold with the finest flag in the neighborhood! I'd gotten a flag!

At home I hoisted the flag by slipping its pole into the holder. The flag flapped in the gentle breeze, the colors glowed, the eagle on top gleamed. I had the best flag! I won!

"Looks like you're keeping up with the Joneses," Mr. Wonderful said pointing out the flags hoisted outside the houses of Harold, Jerry, Charles and Stephen. All were the same size as ours, mounted on a pole and topped with an eagle. Everyone had gotten the same flag! Ours wasn't special. Ours didn't outpace Harold's or Jerry's or Charles and Stephen's. But maybe that's the point. The Fourth of July is not about having the best flag or even being the best. It's about all of us being equal and free in this country we share.

In my neighborhood we're equally ready to celebrate flag season!