I Bleed American

I walk into a shop that displays confederacy paraphernalia, cowboy hats, and Marilyn Monroe coffee cups in the store window. The tall, elderly shopkeeper is in the middle of an order: 4 Elvis shot glasses, 6 Elvis driver’s licenses, hot sauce…bacon and bar-b-q…maple pineapple, 4 tins of… The list continues, each order ever the more ridiculous and entirely appropriate. I stifle a laugh multiples times. He hangs up the phone and says, “Damn it, I forgot to order the Bacon Band Aids.” A few minutes later he follows up with an “Oh, I know what to do!” I am assuming this is in regards to the band aid debacle. He apologizes for talking out loud and I offer to brainstorm for him while I am there.
It doesn’t take more than a few steps into the store to realize that this man is a patriot with a capital “P.” There is a wall dedicated entirely to military related pins: POWs, fake purple hearts, eagles holding snakes, stars of various sizes and metals, I (Heart) My Vietnam Vet, an entire series of scantily clad pinup girls labeled as “Wartime Airplane Decals.” My favorite is a naked girl holding up a towel to cover her naughty bits titled “The Home Stretch.”
I do not feel American enough to be in the same room with this man. He is obviously tied in some personal capacity to the armed service and while I am inclined to ask him about it I sense that he would throw me over the cash register and bellow “Who sent you?!” while brandishing a knife with a menacing depiction of a pointy fingered Uncle Sam on the handle. And if such violent means were never resorted to, he could easily just go into a dissertation on his “time in the war” exploring every bullet hole and every dead comrade until my ears bled.
When I place the pack of confederate flag playing cards down on the counter I try to play it cool, like I am an actual racist who still upholds the uber American tradition of cross burning in my spare time. If he suspects I am doing this solely to play an ironic game of Gin Rummy with some bearded leftist hipsters, I imagine he might toss me out of the joint. I throw in a sweet looking pin with the word “Nashville” riding along musical notes for good measure.

Social progress is highly overrated.

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