Betsy and George

Betsy Ross sewing flag

George dipped with practiced precision under the low lintel of the door frame. At six-foot four, he was quite accustomed to doing this, but of course, since he was wearing a tricorn hat, he had to simultaneously doff his chapeau, slip into the room and look regal and dignified.  All of this was quite an annoyance that almost set him to grinding the few real teeth he had left. Nevertheless, when he spied a lady in blue hooped dress, sitting in rocking chair, hands fully engaged with a pair of knitting needles, he quickly affected a deep bow, hat in hand. “Madam Ross, I am at your service.”

Betsy Ross looked up from her work. Her face reddened as she hastily put down her knitting. “Oh, General Washington! I apologize, I forgot completely that you meant to call on me today.”

He looked at her with kindness, “Quite all right my dear; I did not mean to startle you.” Stepping forward, he took her extended hand and gave it a courteous peck. “Do you still have time to go over the designs for the new flag?”

“Oh yes!” she said.  With his assistance, she stood up.  After quickly straightening the ruffles in her dress, she walked over a large cabinet next to the wall. With a wide smile she turned to look at him. “I’ve got a few designs for you.”

“Excellent news!” He strode over to the cabinet, careful to avoid catching any of the piles of cloth laying on the floor in his boot spurs.

With a flourish, she pulled the cabinet open, and on the shelf lay three folded bundles. She grabbed the first one. “This design I came up with as I went to church.” With care, she gently unfolded it, until the entire flag hung from her extended fingertips.

His face froze. The main part of the flag was pink, with yellow and white daisies on it, a multicolored rainbow, and a sun in the corner. “Interesting,” he replied dryly.

“Yes, last Sunday, on my way to church, as the sun came up, and mist lay in the air, I passed a field of daisies surrounded by flowering pink flox.  A beautiful rainbow graced the sky, and I thought to myself — isn’t that just like our country, a rainbow emerging after the storm of revolution.”

“And the daisies?” he asked with a crinkled brow.

She quickly pointed a daisy and drew her finger toward the corner of the flag. “Oh see? Daisies turn to face the sun, and there are thirteen of them, just like the states.”

Struggling to maintain his Roman-like bearing, he replied as calmly as he could. “Yes, well. Very pretty, but I was hoping for something with a more martial flair to it. “ He smiled gamely, and slapped a gloved fist into the palm of the other for emphasis. “I was hoping for something that might inspire the troops to be brave and steadfast.”

“Oh…” she replied, a bit hesitantly.  But then, with a smile she set aside her first flag and quickly grabbed the second. “I understand. Let’s see what you think of this one.” She unfurled it.

Sweat broke out on his brow. On a field of yellow, thirteen kittens ran and tumbled about, and in the corner stood a giant rectangular piece of wood in a bucket. His eyebrows shot up, and he quickly glanced at her.

“Well, see. The kitties are the states, which are cute and cuddly. Especially that little one, Rhode Island. But, you see…” she pointed at one of the kitten’s paws …”they all have very sharp claws that can scratch.” At that she clawed the air with her fingers and mewed loudly.

Wide eyed, he stared for a moment before catching himself. “Okay.” His eyes darted to the flag. “What about the stick in the bucket?”

“Oh that,” she quickly replied. “That’s a ruler in an ash can.” He looked at her with confusion.

“Get it? We are getting rid of our old ruler!” She giggled loudly.

With a small nod, and sick smile, he pointed to the last bundle on the shelf. “What about that?”

She looked at the bundle. “Oh that, it’s not a flag; it’s a saddle blanket for your horse.” She put down the second flag and grabbed the last bundle. Unfurling it, there were thirteen red and white stripes on the right two-thirds of the blanket, and blue field with thirteen stars arranged in a circle on the left third of the blanket. In the middle of the circle of stars, though, was a large round hole.

He tapped his fingers against his chin. “Very nice. But what is the hole for?”

She stuck her fingers through the hole. “Oh, that’s for your horse’s tail of course, and so he can … “

“I understand,” he interjected. “Actually, I like this design for the flag, just move the blue field into the upper left corner.” Loudly, he cleared his throat. “Oh, and sew up the hole.”

She pursed her lips, “Well, if that is what you want. Are you sure you wouldn’t like something in the middle of the circle of stars?”

Looking warily at her, he replied, “Like what?”

“Maybe a fierce creature,” her face brightened, “Like a badger, or an angry beaver!”

“Uh, no.” He dug out his pocket watch and gave it a cursory glance. “Oh my, look at the time, my horse is double parked.”

Taking no notice, she continued, “Or better yet, a possum carrying its babies on its back. You know they get quite cross when you try to chase them out of your attic.”

Trying desperately to scrub out the image of his soldiers marching into battle with probably the ugliest animal in North America on his war banner, he backed out of the house, bumping his head on the door-frame. A cloud of powder from his wig surrounded his head as he spoke, “I’ll be back next week to pick up the new flag!”

Following him to the doorway, she replied, “All right, but if you think of something, let me know in a couple of days!”

She swung the door almost shut, before suddenly whipping it open again.  “Woodchucks can be mean too you know.” After staring out the door for a few moments, she shook her head.  “My lord, he moves quickly for such a big man.”

The Information Session

Information Session

Welcome attendees . . .

Professor Vermont Jones banged on the remote. “It won’t turn on, Stanley.”

Dr. Morgan Stanley gritted his teeth. “Try pushing the red button.” Jones stared at the remote blankly. “Use the other side of the remote.”

Jones flipped it over. “Right you are!” Instantly the projector whirred and the screen filled with the image of a slide labeled, “BDCS — an information Session” He looked up pleased with himself, before turning to address his audience. “Welcome ladies and gentlemen to today’s disease of the week. Today I have a video presentation covering a newly discovered syndrome called BDCS or Brain Dead Conservative Syndrome.” Jones looked at the laser pointer and started pushing buttons. A red light shot out and struck Stanley between the eyes.

“JONES! You’re going to blind me!” Jones looked up perplexed but swiftly redirected the pointer to the screen, but not before nearly blinding the front row of his audience.

“Ahem,” Jones continued, “This syndrome first appeared in 2008 during the Presidential election, and has pronounced symptoms and sadly, no known cure – not even a full frontal lobotomy will cure it. The following video will illustrate the symptoms of the disease.”

Jones pushed a button on the remote and a video segment began of a neatly dressed woman sitting in a restaurant. A waiter approaches the table.

“Ma’am,” the waiter began, “Can I help you?”

The woman looks up. Jones pauses the video. The screen image freezes on the woman’s face. “Notice the cross-eyes; this is caused by only being able to see extremes, and nothing in the middle.” The video plays again.

“Are you talking to me?” the woman replies. “Because I don’t like your tone.”

The waiter pauses. He glances about, and then shrugs his shoulders. “Would you like to hear the specials?”

“Are you trying to limit my options? Did the government tell you to say this?” The video pauses again.

“Note the victim’s intense paranoia and overly sensitive nature. This makes simple conversation almost impossible.” The video advances.

The waiter clears his throat. “Our special today is spaghetti with …”

“Are you saying my spine is like linguine?”

“No ma’am that is just the special.”

“Okay, I’ll have the fish. Does it come from the Sea of Galilee and was it prepared by a rabbi?”

The waiter stared at her a moment. “Um, no, it came from the Atlantic, and Jose, our cook, prepares it.”

The woman glares at the waiter. “Jose? I see. He must be a Canadian illegal. Can I see his green card?”

The waiter begins tapping his pencil on his order pad. “Jose is from New Jersey. He was born here.”

“I need to see his birth certificate.”

“I see.” The waiter shook his head. “That is not going to happen.”

The lady waggled a finger at the waiter, “The Constitution says I have that right.”

“You’ll have to show me that passage then,” the waiter continued.

The woman paused. “It must be in the Bible then.”

“Somehow I doubt that. Do you still want the fish?” The video pauses again.

“Notice how the syndrome twists the logic process to assert beliefs contrary to facts, and the reliance on the Bible when the victim’s logic trail becomes unsustainable.” The video begins again.

“Yes,” the woman replies, “but I see the price is ten dollars, I only want to pay six.”

“I can give you a half order if you like.”

“No, I expect a full order for just six dollars.”

The waiter snapped his notepad closed. “I’m sorry, but that can’t happen. Would you like to speak with the manager?”

“Yes, I would, and in particular I want to know his plans to redistributing my wealth to the other customers.”

“Oooookay,” the waiter replied. He turned and walked back to the kitchen. After a few moments he returned with the manager.

“Ma’am, what is the problem?”

“Socialism and high taxes,” the woman replied.

“I don’t see how this is relevant to you completing your order. Can you please …”

“I SAID SOCIALISM AND HIGH TAXES!” the woman shouted.

The manager jerked back, “I see no need to start …”

“THIS IS A SOCIALIST PLOT TO TAKE MY MONEY!”

“I’m sorry, but I need to ask to you leave,” the manager replied. She looked at waiter and gave him a thumbs-out signal. The waiter pulled the woman’s chair away from the table.

“LOOK! ABUSE! I AM BEING DENIED MY RIGHTS! THE BLACK HELICOPTERS ARE COMING FROM THE UN; MY NAME IS BEING ADDED TO THE DEATH PANELS!” After much scuffling the woman, dragged by the waiter, disappears into the background. The video stops.

“As you can see, attempts to converse with individuals suffering from this disease usually ends up in shouting matches,” Jones said. “Any questions?” A hand slowly rose. “Yes?”

“What can be done to fix this problem?”

“I think the only solution is to ask the government to study the issue, and in four to five years produce a position paper on how best to legislate such thoughts and ideas out of existence.”

“Given the current monetary situation in the US, how do propose to pay for this?”

“Clearly, if the money is not available, Congress should impose a tax. I would call this a freedom tax to free us from people who believe differently from the accepted norm.”

Silence filled the hall as another hand rose up. “Um, how did you come to study this syndrome?”

“Well,” Jones replied, pushing his glasses up on his nose. “After our less than successful work on repealing the laws of gravity, we set our sites on a more contemporary target, and applied for a research grant to pursue it. We need to protect the general public from people who believe that the government is the enemy, because clearly, the government is not the enemy – only the thoughts and opinions of those that can’t be controlled are.”

Stanley stood up. “Yes, and if we are successful, our next step is to revisit our patent on lying.  We had hoped that would have enhance our revenue stream but we ran into an intractable problem.”

“Which was?”

“No one believed us.  That said, however, we should have better success with the patent infringement lawsuit against Fox News.”  Stanley turned to Jones.  “Would that be fair to say?”

“Yes,” Jone replied, “and balanced too.”

“Well everyone, time for evaluations.  See the feedback forms on the tables in front of you.  Please rate this session from one to seven, with one being excellent, and seven being poor.”

A flurry of paper shuffling and pencil scraping broke out.  Jones checked his watch.  “Sorry folks, we are out of time. Please line up at the exits, anyone submitting a session feedback rating of more than three will need to go through the door marked Soylet Green. Thank you for attending the information session.”