There are many things I’ll do for the American flag. I don’t mean the flag as a symbol, the flag as an idea. I mean the literal stars and bars in poly-cotton blend. It turns out one of the things I will do is maintain a precarious balance on wobbly office chairs order to hang Old Glory from the The Oswegonian office ceiling. It wasn’t serving in Vietnam, but I like to think I was risking my neck.
That incident reminded me of all the things I love about America. When people have that thought, they tend to focus on the big-ticket freedoms (free speech, habeas corpus… you get the gist). But my thoughts centered on liberty’s petite, size-zero accessories.
For instance, in America no door is ever locked from the inside. Never. It’s that kind of thing that I take for granted so often, but probably isn’t true in a lot of places. In America, in the event of a fire, you can always get out. Simple wonders.
Here’s a few some of our staff came up with:
• If a woman wants a haircut, she can rip a page out of a waiting room US Weekly and take that picture right to the beautician. An hour later, Jennifer Aniston’s bangs have colonized another forehead.
• In America, parents are always worried their teens are huffing something .
• For every conceivable mistake you can make, there’s a Hallmark card to apologize for it. The cards for the most common mistakes sing. Did you accidentally impale your neighbor’s pet llama with a lawn dart? Even you are only $2.99 away from healing and absolution.
• The only way we can tell the difference between porn and MTV is that MTV has that logo in the lower-right corner.
• No matter what it is, it is not malaria.
• When a situation presents an actual choice, you can usually get both. Why shouldn’t I have the Big Mac and large fries? I’m hungry! This, friends, is the essence of freedom’s sweet, obesity-inducing breast milk.
• Everything is wireless. We get mad when stuff isn’t wireless. A telephone cord might as well be an ankle monitor, because to an American the air is literally filled with magic that navigates our cars and brings email to our cell phones.
• Butter in small quantities is free on every restaurant table, but larger quantities you have to pay for. And people actually do.
• Cupcakes are like common property. If someone in the office has extra, the chubbiest employee is contractually obligated to distribute them to other floors until no surplus persists.
• The water in the bathroom always tastes better t¬han the water in the kitchen.
• We go to Barnes & Noble and feel like we’re getting one over on the man if we read a whole book in the café without buying it. Yet we wouldn’t go to library if you paid us.
• We are all fascinated with the duty-free store in airports. To an American, the fact that we can’t shop there feels vaguely to us like tyranny. Anthropologists have never found a satisfactory answer to our hatred of immigrants; I suggest they start with this and work outward.