Let me preface this story by stating that I think England is a fantastic country. Of my top five favorite bands, at least three are British. Winston Churchill is my idol. Great people, great country. I have one complaint, however: American girls find British guys to be overwhelmingly attractive, as if they all have Hugh Grant’s nuances or Chris Martin’s eyes. The English wit can be hard for females to reject, leading to the frustrations of thousands of American lads with perfectly fine charisma. One thing leads to another, and suddenly you’re burning up a British flag in your English counterpart’s yard. It happens all the time.
Surely, most of you have memorable British-flag-burning stories. Who doesn’t? Mine starts with my girlfriend of one year randomly and unexpectedly telling me she “wanted to take a break” while playing an intense game of Risk. Relationships rarely overcome such words, but I reluctantly agreed after a time limit of three weeks was set. “Maybe this will be relaxing,” I thought. “What could possibly go wrong?”
It took twenty-eight hours for her to be asked out.
“You’re not gonna be happy about who it is,” she told me over the phone as I punched a wall. She was right: this was someone I knew, an Englishman by the name of Ben who I had met at a party. He was a friendly chap (I recall at one point calling him “the nicest guy I’ve ever met”), but that didn’t matter now. The guy was clearly scum. Besides, he was butt-ugly. I thought this even before I was blinded with remorseless rage. He strongly resembled an Orc from “The Lord of the Rings,” except pudgier and with dirtier teeth. In any conventional romantic situation, I’d easily defeat him. But he was English, and that damn accent was the linchpin of his attraction, the wild card that oozed of British charm. Perhaps I saw an Orc—but when he opened his mouth, she saw Colin Firth.
Dating commenced over several weeks, and although the reports from my lady confirmed that, indeed, I was far more entertaining and competent, his Britishness clearly kept a hold on her psyche. It was becoming more evident each day that this doofus had stolen my girlfriend, despite his best efforts to ruin it. Time and time again my pseudo-girlfriend would call me late at night to complain about her pseudo-boyfriend. “Ben stood me up again.” “He ignores me for hours.” “His stomach is enormous!”
“Geez. What a douchebag. I ought to go over to his house and burn a British flag in his yard,” I once jokingly suggested. “That’ll show him.”
“Oh my God,” she said, the first sign of joy in her voice in weeks. “That’s hilarious. You have to do that.”
Now, anyone who’s been in the desperate situation of trying to win the approval of a girl knows that there is no action too absurd or illegal if it means victory. Besides, I had wanted to give this guy a knuckle sandwich from the beginning of this fiasco. If I was too much of a wuss to do that, this was the next best option. Thus, a week later, I found myself plopping down twenty bucks to buy a full-size Union Jack, and, after asking my friend Tommy to be my partner-in-crime, set out to disrespect the British Empire under the cover of night.
Suddenly, heightened levels of testosterone overtook me, and it wasn’t really about my girlfriend anymore. This was about my manhood, and, above all, American males tired of British charm. Some 230 years ago, a group of rebels told England, “Stop leveling taxes on us.” I was about to make a similar courageous statement on behalf of all Americans: “Stop stealing our girlfriends.”
Before embarking on the mission, I wrote “Fuck the Queen” with permanent marker in the flag’s left corner. Then the flag was suitably soaked with pickle juice, relish and—perhaps the most disgraceful condiment we could’ve found—French dressing. As a finishing touch, we urinated on the already horrendously smelling symbol of Great Britain.
“Are you sure this isn’t a hate crime?” Tommy asked me, worried about his future senatorial bid.
“Of course it’s not,” I said. “This is just a prank with hate-filled themes.”
With the stench somewhat vomit-inducing, we quickly rushed to Ben’s house, drying the flag in the wind along the way. After declaring to the presumably vacant home that I was unbelievably pissed off at him, we set the flag ablaze. It burned quickly, but at least half was salvaged, then torn up and placed in front of his doorway, where he would be sure not to miss it.
The next day, my now ex-girlfriend went over to Ben’s house and very carefully asked him about the smoldering flag in his yard, knowing full well it was my doing.
“Oh, right, that’s the old Union Jack,” he said, mostly uninterested. “Guess some buggers decided to leave it here all tattered up. Hope that’s not supposed to be directed at me or something. Well, off to the cinema?” (Sam Thonk)