My husband sat, watching a show on the military channel. This was his life before we met. Mine was more hippie-esque. No guns. Just brownies. He was really into this veteran show and being the asshole that I sometimes am, I asked my husband, “Aw, honey, are you tearing up?” I mean, the “Aw” was dripping with sarcasm. Why would I do that? Because I’m a closet bitch. And he never cries at the abused animal commercials that make me choke up. As the question came out, I wanted to retract it or twist it into, “Aw, honey, are you hungry?” or something equally non-provoking. But I didn’t. It came out before I turned on my filter. He said, “Seriously?” and walked out of the house.
Well, I never said that my mouth works as well as my hands.
After letting him rake the leaves for a while, as if he were raking my face, I went outside and apologized. Sincerely. Not sarcastically. It wasn’t enough. I could tell by the way he continued his vigorous leaf destruction.
Did I mention the fact that the following day was Veteran’s?
He is a veteran. My intention was simply to mock him and be silly because he mocks me when I tear up during commercials. How was I to know that my “never-been-to-war-but-really-enjoys-laughing” self was jabbing into a veteran wound? He went to work on Veteran’s Day, something I notice most vets do. It’s only teachers, students and postal workers who actually get the day off. I decided that I would be a good citizen for once and hang a U.S. flag in honor of our veterans. I don’t usually display my American pride because of my past of growing up in another country. Sometimes it feels forced and awkward, but this time I decided to get over myself and thank the people who have fought for our freedom. I knew there was a flag around my house somewhere.
Where was it? I know it was here. My mom sent it to me years ago… I think she ordered it from L.L. Bean. Oh. There it is. Poking out from that shelf up there.
Red, white and blue.
So nicely folded. L.L. Bean must really be into presentation. Wow. And it’s huge. I unfolded it, marveling at its size. I hung it from our bedroom windows.
Sigh. There I was. The patriotic wife of a veteran. I was kind of proud of myself. This stuff does not come naturally to me. Maybe I’d whip up a casserole and clean the house.
My husband was touched. He came home and told me that it meant a lot to him and he couldn’t believe that I had done that. I glowed in my new patriotic role. I felt warm like apple pie.
And then he paused. It was one of those “pregnant pauses” that you read about. Big. With a creature inside. Ready to be birthed.
“You do know why it’s so large, don’t you?”
I defensively responded, “Well yes. Of course I do.” Thinking that it’s so large because it’s a flag, an L.L. Bean flag. They do good work. It’s supposed to make an impression, right?
I looked at him. He smiled in a patronizing way, his eyes looking at me with simultaneous amusement and pity. It was a smile that said, “was this woman raised in a barn?”
“The flag is so big because it was on a coffin. This was my uncle’s flag.”
Yes. I had just dishonored a flag. A flag that was never to be unfolded. I shook that puppy out and hung it from my window. Gad. I hope a bird didn’t poop on it.
Maybe being patriotic is not my cup of tea. Still, I think those veterans rock for putting their lives on the line, and my veteran rocks the most. I’m glad that even if I am a remedial patriot and perhaps a remedial wife he enjoys my brownies. Sure, they don’t have anything but sugar in them, but they make us happy.