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William Nicholson: An Alphabet: D is for Dandy (1897)

“ … not as anybody's Dandy, Yankee Doodle-Do, or died.”

I am not a Dandy, Doodle-Do, or otherwise. Come the Fourth of July, I do not rush out to buy my weight in fireworks. I'm more apt to hide behind the garage, praying with my eyes closed for an early cessation of whatever hostilities fueled the heavenly outrage. I do not consider the recreation of artillery barrages a fitting representation of our Democracy's intentions. We were never defined by our hostilities but by our peaceful nature. We were never the type to pick the fight, more the type to work hard to end it, though our record could be better on this one. We have been known as haughty but never in the way that monarchs can get. You know how they can get. Those dudes seem as Dandified as all get out. They look and act ridiculous. Not like Democrats or even Republicans, with exceptions notable because of their extreme departure from our usual No Dandies traditions.

We prefer the plain-spoken sort of politicians who can tell their story straight.
We've had a few buffoons in office, and they've tended to put so many off politics that their party suffers serious setbacks and sometimes even exiles. We've had the Warren G. Hardings or been had by them, both Democrat and Republican, and one or two who said they preferred to enjoy the rights and privileges of kings rather than those more modest ones enjoyed by Presidents. They became Humpty Dumpties before they were finished, suffering some great fall from which not even partisan horses and good party men could ever put them back together again. Trump's just the latest Dumpty teetering atop his ill-conceived wall. All that ex-president's fireworks and all of his minion's scams will never be capable of putting him back together in office again, either. A good enough reason to celebrate our founding this season, not as Dandies might party, but as families.

My flag suffered from Inversion Therapy during the prior administration. It spent much of that period flying upside down in the international cry for urgent assistance. Our democracy seemed under constant threat then, mostly from enemies of the domestic variety, several genuine Dandies. I do not know if they aspired to be seen as the Yankee Doodle-Do variety or some more nefarious kind; I know that they wore suits unless they were playing golf and seemed to play more golf than they ever engaged in any of The People's business. Now that golf belongs to the Saudis, golfing Dandies might have joined the malign forces of foreign rather than domestic enemies. They're still Dandies, every exclusive club membership holder among them.

On the Third of July, The Muse and I used to attend the dress rehearsal for the Capitol 4th celebration on the West Capitol grounds in Washington DC. This was pre-insurgency and was the low-key affair practicing for the Dandified formal one on the fourth. It featured the same performers in the same costumes they'd wear the following evening when potentates and shit would be attending. We'd sit up on the West Capitol steps, uncomfortable as all get out on the marble and concrete, standing for the more rousing renditions of the traditional tunes. The US Marine Corps Band would end the festivities by playing some rousing Sousa, who lived in that neighborhood and used to march around those streets playing the tuba. Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" was accompanied by a barrage of light artillery. Those cannon would rattle every window between there and The White House, a fitting ending, I guess, to our Capitol's Fourth celebration.

We'd shuffle back to the Capitol South Metro station and join the crowd heading toward Metro Center, pedestrian, distinctly not Dandy, having not minded the music or the steps or been all that handy with any women, even The Muse. We once wandered out onto the edge of Arlington Cemetary, where multitudes throng on Independence Day to get stuck in an all-American traffic jam and to try to see the largest fireworks display exploding over The Potomac. It was the worst celebration I ever remember attending. People were trampling each other, and the neighborhood was gridlocked. I was grateful we were walking and grateful, too, that we couldn't see the display from there, just hear the boom-booming echoing in the distance. I declared an early cessation of those hostilities, and we shuffled back to our temporary apartment. That was a fitting beginning to The Muse and My Exile. This year we're home, celebrating in the city park, The Muse campaigning for election as a plainspoken representative of The People, not as anybody's Dandy, Yankee Doodle-Do, or died.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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