Jose, Can You See

September 25, 2016

I stopped at my grocery store for a bottle of wine this pm, and after walking up and down the aisle, I made a selection, a jug of cheap red. A clerk approached me. He was holding a portable CD player. He clicked “on,” and the “Star Spangled Banner” started up. Thinking of Brother Colin Kaepernick, I kneeled.

I walked into the specialty foods area and got some potato salad and three bean salad. The nice clerk behind the counter wrapped my selections, and she clicked on a CD player and played the “Star Spangled Banner.” I kneeled. Other customers put hands on hearts and sang along then booed me.

At the dairy case, I got some yogurt, and the dairy gal sang a robust version of the “Star Spangled Banner.” One customer was so moved, she squeezed a plastic gallon jug of milk hard enough that it exploded. Before my shopping adventure was over, Brother Colin Kaepernick, I had knelt eleven times, heard eleven versions of the “Star Spangled Banner,” was booed eleven times, developed low self-esteem, experienced the heartbreak of psoriasis, and the shopping cart guy anointed me with strawberry-flavored seltzer water.

While driving home, I stopped at two sets of stoplights, and in each case the “Star Spangled Banner” played, and drivers got out of their cars and sang with gusto. I remained seated, whereupon honk-ees gave me the finger.

When I opened my front door, Scout the Cat began meowing the “Star Spangled Banner,” and when I kneeled, she swiped my ears bloody with her claws. Then crickets in the basement chirped the “Star Spangled Banner,” and since Cricket Lives Matter, Brother Colin Kaepernick, I stood with my hands folded.

The “Star Spangled Banner,” the tune of which (I’m not kidding) is an old English drinking song and is not singable – unless you’re stoned or a three-hundred-pound soprano from Elephant’s Breath, Iowa – is a jingoistic, masturbatory song with lots of rockets and ejaculation lyrics suitable for a fifth grade boy convocation on the playground.

Contrast that with say, the canon “Finlandia,” which posits that one country is just as good as another, and God bless us everyone, and watch where you point that cannon.

My next door neighbor, Jose, after five tequila shots, has been known to sing “Jose, Can You See,” which is actually quite touching – after five matching tequila shots – even though he can’t sing a lick. After five tequila shots, you can’t see, sing, sigh, Sue, sack race, soul brother, solemnly swear, syncopate or scintillate.

If I were Czar, Brother Colin Kaepernick, it would be down with national anthems, nationalism, nation building, the national bank, and nationality. It would be Up with People, up yours, upstart, up skirt, “up, up, and away.”

Meantime, my television won’t let me watch Masterpiece Theatre unless I stand and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” and the theme from “Rocky IV.”

Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel L. Jackson: “It’s about patriotism while fighting snakes on a plane.” Samuel Beckett: “That’s how it is, on this patriotic bitch of an earth.” Book of Samuel, Chapter 6, Verse 2: “We shall drink patriots’ blood at happy hour.”

Brother Colin Kaepernick: Please pass the patriots.

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