Patriot games

“I’ve never seen one of those going that fast,” my wife Rachael uttered in disbelief from the passenger seat.

Nearly a dozen tons of white metal, rubber, satellite TV and septic tank, all pieced together into a slice of recreational vehicle heaven, had just rushed past my wife’s door. Adding to the excitement, the beast had passed on the inside lane with only a couple hundred feet of inside lane remaining. My own speedometer, affixed to our humble Japanese four-cylinder, was hovering around 70 mph, and the giant white box was dropping us like we were a sorry Eastern European compact.

Through the tinted window, a pair of aviator glasses stared down at our Subaru. The mirrored lenses did little to hide the hairy eyeballs. In an obvious display of force, the angry man nailed the accelerator again.

“Wow, I’ve never seen a car that large being towed,” Rachael added in a now shaky voice.

Close behind the RV – like an obese Baby Huey trailing an even plumper mother duck – was the town car, a mammoth Ford Excursion. As I stepped on the brake, the Excursion and its yellow license plate made hard turns nearly clipping our front bumper.

“Whoa, Dad! That was a close one,” my 5-year-old daughter shouted as she, too, got in on the action. The RV then gunned it a second time, making sure we got the message, and spewed a cloud of exhaust onto our windshield.

When the smoke cleared, the vehicle made its identity known. Large, red, white and blue letters called out “The Patriot!” In place of a dot, a silver star hung over the letter “i,” magnetic ribbons covered the beast’s rear in a rash and “Back Off!” mudflaps hung off the box like twin tails. In a blaze of all-American fury, the driver powered on down the road, burning high-octane Middle Eastern tea like it was going out of style (Quick word of advice to the Patriot – gasoline is rapidly going out of style; new evidence suggests that we have less then than two decades left before we’ve squeezed out the final dirty drop).

As the Patriot gunned it up the next rise and motored off into the sunset, a sobering thought hit. Is this what it’s all about, I asked myself. Are we fighting for the right to vacation in luxury? Have we destabilized the entire Middle East so that the Patriot can continue to roam the highways and byways of the West? Is our half-billion-dollars-a-day war chest a mere downpayment on America’s “right” to chew up nearly 90 percent of the planet’s resources? Have close to 4,000 of our sons, daughters, fathers and mothers gone beneath the blade and into the ground so that Ralph and Edna can go on getting 8 miles to the gallon? Is the naked truth really that ugly? As luck would have it, the answers showed shortly after that run-in, when I bumped into two of the only other remaining “patriots.”

For a little background, this pair dyed their skins red, white and blue months prior to the invasion of Iraq and hasn’t looked back since. They’re the husband and wife who actually employed the “freedom fries” phrase and still ask why I’ve got “goofy looking” compact fluorescent light bulbs in my fixtures. They also pull out the classic old “Love it or Leave It” rhetoric whenever anyone questions the policies that ooze out of the Oval Office. “I’ve got an idea,” one will say. “How ’bout you just move to Afghanistan!.” And in a cosmic coincidence, our paths seem to cross every three months. At each of these meetings, good-natured cocktail-hour conversation inevitably degenerates into discussion of the War in Iraq.

Listening to these patriots is like flipping on the Fox News greatest hits reel as justifications for the war hitting in a series of rehearsed, rapid-fire sound-bites. In unison, they’ll call out, “weapons of mass destruction.” When reminded that the weapons inspectors found absolutely no evidence of nuclear weapons, the pair changes gears. “Iraq supported and funded al-Qaida,” they’ll say loudly, dropping into a W. drawl during the final foreign word. Once again, the facts get in the way of the argument when Saddam Hussein and Osama bin-Laden’s sworn hatred of one another surfaces. “The war was about freedom for an oppressed people,” they chime in unison now desperate for answers and looking around the room for new conversations. Another party-goer overhears this last bit and jumps in, “The only people currently experiencing freedom in Iraq are white guys driving around in Halliburton trucks.” That last comment forces the patriots to pull their trump card, “This is about supporting our troops.”

And finally my friends (yes, they are still friends) and I find common ground.

“The best support we can offer is to finally bring the troops home and end this ruse,” I offer to a pair of nodding heads. Yep, we can let Ralph and Edna take up the fight for cheap crude, just as soon as they’re home from vacation.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

May 11, 2023
Digs for dirt bags

New hostel offers hikers, skiers and other frugal fun hogs place to hang their hats

May 4, 2023
Saving the cemetery

Proposed apartments spur efforts to preserve historical burial grounds

May 4, 2023
Rico reprieve

Small mountain hamlet to remain resort-free, for now