Bob Woodiwiss

Flagging Interest

Dear Neighbor,

The fact that you, along with everyone else on the street, are flying the American flag has not escaped my attention. I suspect that my failure to do the same might also have attracted yours. Please allow me to explain why my display of patriotism is so lacking:

1. I burned all my flags protesting something. Or things, I should say, though I don't remember what exactly. Probably I flambeed a few over nuclear proliferation; I was big on that for a while and I could really get into a froth on the subject. And I torched plenty of them at free speech demonstrations; those rallies always got my flag-burning juices flowing. NAFTA and the WTO claimed a few, too. Honestly, though, a lot my flags got ashed for less than noble reasons. I mean, burning them kind of became my "thing," my "signature." I lit 'em at my nephew's Little League games, at my high school reunion, even one time at the grand opening of a Super Cuts. Whatever, that big box of American flags I had in my basement is empty now.

2. I don't really need a flag in my yard since I recently stuck a teeny-tiny "window cling" decal of an American flag in the middle of my left contact lens. That way, I see a vague, translucent image of the Stars and Stripes out in front of me all day long. Also, if I poke myself hard in the eye with my finger, the red and blue and purple spots I see look like fireworks going off behind Old Glory on the 4th of July.

3. I'm trying to impress an Afghan woman who works in my office and who I'm thinking about asking on a date. Her name's Shelly and she's a second generation American and everything, and from what I've overheard her say to other people in the break room she deplores terrorism and supports this country's fight against it, but, geez, she's really, really cute and I don't want to do anything that could even remotely hurt my chances with her if I ever get the nerve to actually go out with her and, you know, bring her back to my place for coffee or a drink.

4. Stripes make my house look fat. I keep hoping the government will come out with a flag in a solid, muted earth tone or, if they absolutely have to have a print, a subtle houndstooth, you know, something that'll look good on your average Midwestern house, not just on some skinny, New York brownstones.

5. My flagpole, made of black walnut, manufactured in the 1920s and rated for 48 stars, is currently in the shop being restored, updated and modified to accommodate the modern American 50-star standard.

6. It's been almost three years since you all started calling me "the lazy ass who won't paint his house" and I'm sick and tired of it. May I suggest you now switch to "the son of a bitch without the flag?"

7. As someone of Swiss descent, I find myself confronting this time of great crisis with nothing more than a swelling sense of neutrality.

8. You always expect me to play along with your little yard themes and schemes, but you never go along with mine. Like, remember a few years ago? Somebody got a cement goose and dressed it up in different outfits and before you know it everybody's got a goose with outfits. It was practically mandatory. Then came the silhouettes. Of the dog barking up the tree, of the man leaning against the tree, etc., etc. And before this whole Old Glory kick, every house around here was all caught up in hanging holiday flags and special occasion flags and seasonal flags. But how about when I replaced my garage door with strings of glass beads? Or when I turned the front yard into a prairie dog village? Or the condom machine next to the mail box? Where were you trend sheep for those ideas? Nowhere. Well, I'm telling you, you provincial bastards, until somebody gets behind one of my ideas, screw you.

9. There are strict rules governing the hows and whens and wheres of displaying the United States flag, and if I were any good whatsoever at following strict rules, I wouldn't have a pair of cuticle scissors and three bottle caps lodged in my large intestine.

10. My habitual abuse of peyote renders me incapable of undertaking any job which would require my attention for any time period longer than 10 angstroms in the cruel helix of wolf geography. Repiffens?

Yours sinceremoniously,


Bob Woodiwiss writes humor and satire columns for the Cincinnati Citybeat.

Spooked in America

'Twas Halloween evening and all through the house,
The martinis were stirring (you see, I'm a souse).

The candy'd been purchased, the Kit Kats and Snickers,
I dumped them in bowls for the treaters and trickers.
Though I have to admit I was pissed when I saw
The bars were no bigger than a toy poodle's paw.

With Mate in her wolf's mask and I dressed as Kruger,
We lurked in the shadows, for to scare little boogers.
When out in the front yard there arose such a clatter,
I suddenly lost all control of my bladder.
I looked and I peeked and I peered and I spied,
For a threat was inferred. (Or do I mean "implied?")

The moon on the piles of the crisp, fallen leaves,
Told me soon I'd be raking, there'd be no reprieve.
When what in my night vision scope should appear,
But a terrorist cell, all in turbans and beards.
Then a spooky hobgoblin seemed to ooze from the group,
Yes, Osama bin Laden, the vile nincompoop.

He looked o'er his flunkies, then he started to call,
Some names of his grim and bloodthirsty cabal.
"On Ahmed! On Fazul! On Al-Zawahiri!
Abdullah, Mustafa, bin Ali El-Hoorie."
His minions un-safety'd their guns and advanced,
And solid joined liquid down below in my pants.

My mouth became dry and I started to quiver;
I chugged my martini (oh, to hell with my liver!).
These Halloween devils had me quite mortified.
I thought: Where's the cops? And the FB of I?
Instead of green witches and blue Power Rangers,
I'm white as a ghost with real feelings of danger.

In a twinkling the bogeymen spread 'round my yard,
Tromping hostas and asters with cruel disregard.
Their leader came forward, stepping up to my door,
With a look on his face I'd describe as cocksure.
"Trick or treat, infidel," in my face this was spat.
My martini responded, "Hi, Osama. Kit Kat?"

He pushed past the wife and me, into the foyer,
Such an odious scumbag (even worse than most lawyers).
His mouth, how sadistic! His cheeks oh-so sallow!
His hands -- cracked and dry -- cried for lotion with aloe.
The beard on his chin was all pepper and salt.
And his lunatic eyes, well, those, oy gevalt!
A long slender face topped his bony physique.
He dressed like a soldier, not exactly trés sheik.
I guess I expected some flash, something gaudy,
Come on, after all, he's a millionaire Saudi.

A turban was perched on his head with aplomb,
And in his coat's pocket I could see a small bomb.
In his grip, a Kalishnikov, aimed at my belly,
A short burst of slugs and I'd be vermicelli.
This weapon he flaunted, just as if he were brave.
(Note: He smelled of bat guano; such is life in a cave.)

He spoke in a voice that was almost melodic,
The content, however, tended more toward psychotic.

"I am visiting homes on this Halloween night,
'Cause I'm scary and ghastly and normalcy's blight.
I want to disturb you and creep out this nation,
To recast my shadow and sow desperation.
I want you to cower, to shudder and quail.
Don't travel. Stay home. Oh, and boil all your mail.
Stop spending and watch your economy plunge deep;
Help speed the Great Satan to history's dung heap.
And thus shall I subjugate, sack and subdue.
The short version, infidel? Quite simply, it's 'BOO!'"

With the squint of an eye and the look of a skink,
Osama and henchmen scattered into night's ink.

"Now that cat," the Mate said, "was the blackest of blacks,
I mean, his bad luck just might give us anthrax."

Then we stood there, afraid, just as we'd been advised,
We trembled, we worried, stiff and immobilized.
The moment stretched long and the mood grew more heavy,
Till she said with resolve, "Let's go buy us a Chevy."

Bob Woodiwiss writes satire and humor columns for the Cincinatti Citybeat.

Card Carrying Capitalist

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