Confessions of an Icon

By Gus Bode

The Politics of Dancing

In wake of Sept. 11 and the Fourth of July, I decided it was time to sit down with Old Glory and see how the red, white and blue was feeling these days.

Q. How was your relationship with Betsy Ross?


A. It was good. She and I got to talk about all sorts of things. She was just a little lonely. She was a great seamstress, and she was really gentle. After the seventh star, I got a little sore, and then after the 10th, I was just really numb.

Q. How did you feel when we went from 13 stars to the present 50?

A. Oh God, talk about pain. I felt like I had been married way too many times to the wrong woman. It was like getting one tattoo, thinking I was committed, and then having to redo it all the time. I just pray that Puerto Rico never becomes an official part of the United States. Besides, I’d like to see them cram another star on me without making it look stupid.

Q. Sept. 11 – any words?

A. I knew this was coming. Honestly, it hurt. It hurt in more ways than one. It hurt because I was standing for truth, justice, the American Way, freedom and all that jazz – then all of a sudden it was shot down. You know, I’ve been through some hard times, and yesterday was really my only outlet. Yesterday I got the chance to fly high over the nation and have a beer, some barbecue and just relax. The Fourth is the best, except for the occasional singe from stray fireworks, but hey, it comes with the territory.

Q. One word – Clearance.

A. I know. It’s so depressing. Really, that’s the only thing that pisses me off about the American people. Everyone was parading me around like some damned trend. That’s honestly how I felt, like I was the fad. I still do actually. You’ll see me hanging around in the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart now. I’m in little rows at K-Mart for 50 cents a pop.


Everybody else is making huge bank off of me as well. It makes me sick. All I ever tried to do was boost some morale around this place. I just tried to make people stand up a little taller and breathe a little deeper. Now I’m on silver dollars that are going for five bucks, and you think I see any of that profit? No way, I just sit there and look pretty.

It was a big turn around from the whole burning episode in the ’60s though. That was horrible. I like being exploited this way better. It was bittersweet. Really hot chicks were taking their bras off one minute and I was all like, “Yeah!” and the next minute they were taking Bic lighters to me and the bra, and I was like, “Damn!”

Q. With Liberty and justice for all? Who really loves you?

A. Well, I’ve got to say the military does. It really goes to bat for me. I mean, the military has real reasons to stand up for me; they’ve got this conviction, you know? Almost everyone else just loves me out of habit. I hate to say it, but that’s just how I feel some days when I wake up.

Q. The Pledge of Allegiance might receive an edit. Any thoughts?

A. Oh, the whole “under God” thing. Right, I know about that. Well you see, times change, and people have to change a long with the times; they just don’t want to admit it. Kids mess that one up all the time anyway; it really makes no difference to me.

Since I’m an inanimate object, I really don’t get the right to believe in God, but as an entity that stands for truth and justice, I believe firmly in America. She’s the only thing in my heaven. I love this country with every fiber of my being. I just wish the people would make up their minds. They love me, they hate me, they burn me, they fly me out of their car windows. It just seems like it’s either trendy to hate me or to love me. I would be happy if they just picked one – either way – and stuck with it.

Arin Thompson can be reached at [email protected].