Brain Canvas

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Unexplained Historical Re-enactor

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A fantasy: I walk into a bar with a friend or two in a city of historical importance, let’s say Washington, DC.  It does not matter whether it is a sharp and ultra-modern bar or a homey, well-worn public house.  We sit down on the stools at the bar, and before we can order our drinks a throaty, erudite voice to my left utters: “Are you gentlemen Tories, or Americans?” I turn to see who has asked this misplaced question to find Benjamin Franklin, complete with bifocals, period dress, and bald head giving way to a flowing ring of whitening hair.  His exceedingly ample frame overflows his barstool, but he appears at ease, not shoved against the bar, drinking a foamy amber ale from a pint glass.  “Excuse me?” my friend to the right asks. “I ask you again, friends, are you loyal to the tyrant King George the Third, or are you of an American persuasion?” We are certainly amused to temporary dumbness at the situation.  We walked in expecting a routine evening of socializing with each other and perhaps some other marginally interesting attendants of the pub.  Instead we have found someone well beyond the margins of interesting – quite a weirdo.  Curious and wanting to play along, I speak to him as if I was talking about my opinion on an upcoming, heavily contested Presidential election.  “American, of course! I don’t associate with anyone else.  Right, friends?” One friend nods vigorously in agreement, the other stares with brows raised, too cool to be a part of the game. “Well, you have found yourself in good company, sirs!” he assures us with a warmer tone.  “Publican! Three pints of your finest cask ale for these gentlemen, on my behalf.”  The bartender opens the tap on a large wooden barrel, letting forth a heady draught of the same color that Benjamin is enjoying.  He raises his pint glass and looks us each in the eye over the top rim of his bifocals, and once we follow suit with our glasses he declares, “That the nascent shoot of democracy and independence would be a sturdy, leafy oak for our grandchildren!” We reply “hear, hear” and take a swig.  It is thicker than what I am used to. He smacks his lips a bit and clears his throat lightly, saying “Every time I raise the glass to my lips, I remember why I come here.”  He puts his glass down and says “Friends, I do not have to tell you that we are at a crucial point in the progress of our American culture and political situation.  A great many of us have become used to the advantages the British take of us.  We are taxed without proper representation in the affairs of our overlords.  They monopolize how we communicate with one another.  They take too high a portion of the things we produce for themselves, after we have had to pay them already for the resources necessary to make an honest living.  And yet, due to the pressure they exert upon the psyche of we colonists, too many of us believe it is a just price to pay to say we are a people under the Crown.  Too many of us – yea, especially too many of us who hold sway over the opinions of our neighbor and the respect of our community – too many of us find it difficult or even seditious and sinful to question whether the Crown has wronged us.  They say, ‘How can the Crown wrong us? What comes from the King is the just law of the land.’” He takes another deep swig and as he does, none of us make even a twitch of the mouth or a move of our shoulders to suggest that we will interrupt what is clearly a momentary intermission in a feature-length dialogue.  After wiping his lips with his cuffs, Benjamin Franklin resumes: “This is why I fear for the opportunities that are offered by the potential of our thirteen Colonies.  If we humble and intent Colonists bind together as one union of American people, and cause our justly derived government to seat its power upon our sober and considered consent, we may take proper control over our destinies and not become slaves to a power in which we have no stake.  It is this realization which has driven me from complacency into a serious and active interest in the securing and advancement of independence for our Colonies.  Though they may call us terrorists or anti-commerce, I say we are nation-builders!  We cannot, as men who would say we are Americans in these troubled times, sit idly by and allow the tyrant’s oppression to grow and choke our emerging national character.” We all sat in silence as he downed the rest of his ale, gave the bartender a smile and a wave, and walked out the door of the bar.
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Written by Preston

August 4th, 2009 at 12:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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