saved by colorful arms and wings

Before I walked into my local U.S. Post Office (or whatever official semi-autonomous profit-center designation it may go by these days) to update my stash of obsolescent 34-cent stamps this afternoon, I was prepared for at least the possibility of a federal confrontation over my current discomfort with representations of the stars and stripes.

I needn't have worried as it turned out, since my studly, shaved-head clerk had two armfuls of gorgeous colorful tattoos falling out of his short sleeves, and he replied sadly, when I said I needed ten three-centers, and after he had sighted my slash-war button, that unfortunately there was only one kind available.

Displaying the stamp's image of a stylized star in the national colors, he smiled but suggested, "It's not too bad." Still, he was not the least surprised when I told him I'd prefer to see what he had in one-cent stamps. I took thirty of one of the non-flag designs available (a familiar and not very exciting image of the "American Kestrel"), and I also selected and bought a number of microscoptically-reduced images of John James Audubon birds as currently the least jingoistic of the new 37-cent issues.

Mr. tattoo and the birds had saved me, and I was temporarily quite pleased with the world.