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Tuesday, July 23, 43 A.B.
 

WARNING: May Contain Peanuts, MSG, And/Or
Monster Squid
 

The woodchuck is back.  The fact that I hadn't seen him all winter or spring led me to believe he'd retired or been transferred, but no - he was merely on sabbatical.  Or maybe in Tahiti.  I've tried searching him for travel brochures but he runs the moment my hand touches my patio door.

Perhaps he suspects my real intention is to cuddle him to pieces?  The more I see him scurry off as fast as his little fat legs can carry him, and the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that prior love affairs have broken his heart once too often to allow him to accept the sincerity of my feelings for him.  Ahh, poor woodchuck...  Perhaps once he's finished dining on all my weeds he'll have the strength again to take a chance on me.  The question then becomes how we break the news to the companion he brought back with him.

Honestly, once one starts to get involved with another living being the questions and issues are endless, aren't they?

Perhaps...  Perhaps I shouldn't be so promiscuous with my affections.  In my defense, I can only say that I'm not as promiscuous with them as I could be.  For example, I have NO affection for that monster squid that washed up on an Australian beach last weekend, and I really doubt that I would have any even if my newspaper hadn't published a photo of it in the arms of two young people claiming to be scientists.  If you enjoy fantasizing what it would be like to be caressed by the 50-foot tentacles of a 550-pound cephalopod, I'm happy for you, but it's just not my thing.  I only claimed it was once in high school in hopes of boosting my chances of getting a decent co-op job.  Alas, it didn't work....

I have NO affection for that odd fish they found in Maryland, either.  You know the one I mean, right?  That illegal Chinese immigrant with razor-sharp teeth and the ability to walk-flop, walk-flop between bodies of water like some sort of mutant politician forced by a just God to forever wander between fundraisers without the benefit of a chauffeur.  As much as I am naturally drawn to creatures with incipient lungs, the scaly part of my heart still belongs in its entirety to the tree-climbing fish I once saw a photo of in National Geographic.  Such determination!  Such whimsy!  And not a single bikini tan line anywhere in sight!

*Deep breath...  Closing eyes...  Re-centering myself with the help of the Flickerless Candle of Corpus Callosum County....*

What I really want to do here is record my thoughts on the flag and the pledge before they utterly escape me.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the pledge, it goes like this:

"I salute the flag of the state of Ohio and pledge to the Buckeye State respect and loyalty."

If you were unfamiliar with this pledge, no need to be embarrassed - it was just written and approved by my state last month.  Seems after 199 years of not having a pledge, they finally decided one was needed.  I suspect they got wind that a few seconds of the school day was still actually being devoted to educating students and the rush was on to put an end to that as fast as possible.  But that's only a suspicion.  It's possible that the whole thing started off as a joke or a dare in the statehouse cloakroom and somehow it all got out of hand the way most pieces of legislation in Ohio do.  Or maybe a couple Ohio legislators ran into some cute out of state legislators during a junket to Japan or France and when challenged to a game of "I'll show you our pledge if you'll show us yours," the Ohio legislators suddenly realized they didn't have a pledge to show and -

I'm sorry.  Sometimes my profound grasp of reality runs away with me.  The fact is, not all Ohio legislators wanted a pledge at all.  "Think of the cost!" some exclaimed, knowing full well that cost is the only reason things ever get knocked down in my fair realm.  The cost?  Yes, indeed - the cost of equipping every classroom in Ohio with a state flag to say the pledge to.  We're talking 100,000 classroom, my friends.  And several million dollars to put a flag in all of ‘em.  Proponents were stumped - for about a minute.  And then they replied, "Students need not say the pledge to an actual state flag - they can just say it to a facsimile!"  A facsimile?  Yes, indeed.  A Xerox copy, perhaps - either held up in front of the room for group pledging or passed around student to student for solitary pledging.  The poorer schools in southwest Ohio could just use a chalk outline of the state flag on the blackboard.  Not ideal, to be sure, but it's the thought that counts - right?  I'm just not personally sure how to tally up the thought behind pledging allegiance to the chalk outline of a facsimile of a symbol - I think I missed school the day that was covered in math class.  Or maybe we had a pep rally for the basketball team instead.  If only I hadn't inadvertently shredded my records that day I was suddenly overwhelmed by the desire to be a major accounting firm instead of just another brown-haired hominid!

Did you know that the red and white stripes of the Ohio flag represent the roads and waterways of the state?  I guess that means highway travel is even more dangerous here than I thought it was.  And I guess it also means that when we pledge allegiance to that chalk outline of a facsimile of a symbol, we're in effect actually pledging our allegiance to our rivers.  Which I guess is cheaper than actually respecting them enough to clean them up.  Perhaps if I had actually succeeded in my ambition to become a major accounting firm, I'd know exactly how to calculate these things.

As it is, I guess I'm just babbling instead, eh?

*Painfully awkward silence*

Umm, if you'll excuse me... I think I hear a woodchuck trying to pledge its allegiance to me.
 
 

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(©Now by DJ Birtcher despite a powerful lobbyist's attempts
to have this entry killed in committee)