My other name is Mr. Flag. It’s true?I’m a closet vexillologist . I study flags. I guess you’d say that qualifies me as a geek. Or maybe I’m just a pathological liar with a good flag collection.
Regardless, Independence Day is upon us, and with it my mailbox becomes stuffed with the questions people have about the U.S. Flag and its many uses. Following are some of the many that have graced my mailbox between June 14, Flag Day (one of the nation’s more obscure shopping holidays), and the big July birthday bash for the U.S. of A.
Q: Is it okay to fly the US flag upside down during hazing ceremonies at my dorm?
-Dominic Calamanci, Queens, NY
Mr. Flag: Unfortunately the flag can only be flown upside down during emergencies. For example, if you’ve forced a fifth of Jagermeister, one Oxycontin, and a wad of cotton candy down the throat of a trusty frosh it may be appropriate to fly the flag upside down from your dorm window before calling 911.
Q: Does the red color in my flag signify how much butt we’ve kicked since we smacked the Brits? And is it okay to spill blood on my flag?
-John Krol, Huntsville, Texas
Mr. Flag: No. The red color in the flag signifies valor, zeal, and fervency. At all costs try to keep blood from spilling onto the flag, especially when it is not your own.
Q: Can I use worn flag pieces to make a really cool thong?
-Suzi Chang, Santa Cruz, CA
Mr. Flag: Worn pieces of any US flag are to be destroyed once they become worn?preferably by burning. However, there is no regulation that says you cannot email me close-up photos of you and your thong before you burn it.
Q: Could the US Flag become the official flag of the reigning Bush family?
-Muriel Gilchrist, Surrey, England
Mr. Flag: No. At least not yet. Since the U.S. is not a monarchy like Great Britain, its flag does not signify any royal family. Rather it is a symbol to unite and inspire more than 200 million Americans, all of whom have an equal chance at becoming President to George the Elder, George the Junior, and brother Jeb.
Q: I heard somewhere that the name “Old Glory” originated in a bathhouse? That true?
-Hap Gilmore, Fire Island, NY
Mr. Flag: Not exactly. The name “Old Glory” was given to the flag on August 10, 1831, by Captain William Driver aboard the ship Charles Doggett. Driver offered the name upon seeing the flag unfurled atop a long pole while leaving port. Ironically, that trip would climax in the rescue of several barely clad mutineers from the infamous Bounty .
Q: Hey, is it OK to stab someone with my flag?
– Pancho Ravenstein, Los Angeles, CA
Mr. Flag: Only in the most extreme cases?as in defense of the homeland, or on patrol abroad. Remember?you will need a flag pole to be able to stab someone with your flag since flag fabric is pliant and more suitable to smothering.
Q: Is it true that many dry cleaners will clean my flag for free if I promise to fly it on Flag Day or the Fourth of July?
-Jamie Silva, NY, NY
Mr. Flag: Yes, in some cases certain dry cleaners will honor that commitment, but given the wretched state of the economy I wouldn’t push it.
Q: My Vietnamese neighbor has taken to flying the Vietnamese flag next to Old Glory in his backyard. This is a major crime, right? Does this give me the right to punch his puny lights out during a citizen’s arrest?
-Clem Van Zandt, Pensacola, FL
Mr. Flag: No. It is not illegal to display other flags with the U.S. Flag as long as the U.S. Flag is to the other flag’s right. No other flag may be larger or higher than the U.S. Flag. If he’s violated any of these you are still are not allowed to make an arrest. Try polite scolding or playing country music loudly before resorting to violence.
Q: I’m a performance artist moving from New York to just outside Camp Lejuene, NC, where the Marines train. I’m thinking of sneaking into the base and burning the flag as free speech performance art. Any suggestions?
-Gregory Butters, NY, NY
Mr. Flag: You’re either the dumbest performance artist ever, or you’re brilliant. Although burning the flag is still covered under the First Amendment, it would stand you well to stay away from blood thinners and laxatives prior to arriving at the base. I’ll pray for you.