I was waiting for the light at East Orange Saturday when an on oncoming truck – going way too fast and with wheels squealing – rounded the corner on Main Street.

I listened for a screech of brakes and human screams but there were none, thank God. “Where’s a cop when you need one?” I thought.

And, yes, the truck was speeding because the three pole-mounted flags attached to the back end were flying straight out, and that can’t happen without speed or wind. Saturday was a near windless-day.

The flags on display were the good old red, white and blue, one of those newly-controversial “thin blue line” police flags and a yellow Tea Party-adopted Gadsden flag. Is the Tea Party still a thing?

I sighed and wondered why I found the truck regalia so annoying. Then it came to me. It reminded me of the fake patriotism on display during the insurrection at the Capitol last January.

The larger the flag the better because, as we all know, size matters when it comes to fake patriotism.

And who could forget the flags waving on that day or how flagpoles were used as spears and battering rams on police officers who were injured, some mortally. Others were so traumatized that four officers who responded to the Capitol that day have since taken their own lives.

I was startled out of my reveries by a bellow just outside the passenger side window. “Who left the drawbridge down at the Geauga County border?”

It was the town character Miss Demeanor (Ms. D for short) and she was nodding her head in the direction of the just-departed truck.

“If they drive around town much longer, shop folks are gonna start boarding up their windows,” she chuckled. Then without invitation she opened the door and hopped in.

“You are insensitive on so many levels, I’m not sure I want to talk to you,” I told her. Then for good measure, I reminded her that “there are plenty of normal people in Geauga County and they are just as horrified as you about what’s going on in our country.”

She ignored me.“I’m pissed,” she said delicately. I didn’t have time to ask why, but Ms. D seemed to read my mind.

“Speeding around town like a fool is one thing, but disrespecting the American flag and using it like a prop to support one side of the country’s political divide? That’s plain loathsome, and how do you support the police and then defend the ‘patriots’ who bludgeoned them?”

Then with whiplash speed, Ms. D changed the subject in mid-rant.

“Hey, can you circle around and drop me off at the BP station, I am all out of ciggy-butts. I stopped smoking 10 years ago but these MAGA hat-wearing geniuses are driving me nuts, and now they have come to roost in our little town.

No need to ask her to explain, Ms. D was not big on two-sided conversations.

“They don’t want to vaccinate themselves or their kids, follow face covering mandates because it is some kind of assault on their freedom and now they’re getting crazy over diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in our schools like those were dirty words,” she said, getting all red in the face.

Ms. D took a breath and changed the subject just as I pulled into the gas station.

“Hey, wait for me will you, I need a ride to pick up my car at the garage. Can you believe it? Somebody put sand in my gas tank. Guess they didn’t like my ‘there’s no vaccine for stupidity’ bumper sticker.”

I was too tired to suggest she do her part to give peace a chance and ask her mechanic to remove the bumper sticker along with the sand.

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