It was the craziest thing he ever heard of. Condo living had plenty of rules, but most of them he found no trouble living with. Forest Point only allowed residents over fifty-five years of age, so that most of the rules were perfectly acceptable, and the wisdom of elderly folks clearly recognized that some rules had to be enforced, particularly those that applied to younger visitors. But this latest thing really had Bob teed off. “Ridiculous!” he scoffed.
Never expecting any objections, Bob had installed a small bracket on the outside of his screened porch up on the third floor. With July Fourth soon arriving, and the recent war in Iraq along with the terrorist threat, patriotism had seen a surge, and Bob responded to the fervor by purchasing a four-foot by six-foot American flag.
Within hours of the time that he slid the flagpole into the wall bracket, he received a phone call from the Condominium President, Florence Nuttings. She was apologetic, but explained that she had a complaint from an owner, who felt that attaching flags, or anything else, to the property’s common area would open the door to heaven knew what. Further, Flo said that she’d checked the by-laws carefully, and, while flags weren’t mentioned specifically, the letter of the by-laws seemed to support the complainant.
Bob asked for the name of the person who objected, but Flo replied that it would be best if he didn't know, so that friction could be avoided. Bob shot back, “So, I’m accused of misconduct, but don’t get to face my accuser. Is that it?”
Flo realized that this put her in a rather uncomfortable position, so she replied, “Well, Bob, I see your point. Okay, I guess there’s no way of avoiding it. Hildegarde Ross was the first to speak up, but there will likely be others. You do see the position that I’m in.”
“Look, Flo, I’m not blaming you for any of this, but, damn it all to hell, it’s just not the American way, don’t you agree?” He paused letting Flo absorb this, and continued, “These are unusual times, and patriotism is an important issue here. We should be able to express our feelings in support of the country’s efforts at home and abroad.”
“To tell the truth, Bob, that’s just the way I put it to Hildy. But, she’s adamant.”
“Okay, so the issue is that it can’t be hung in the common area, right? How about if I hang it inside the porch so it can still be seen through the screens? Will that do it?”
Flo thought on that for a moment, before answering. “Well, Bob…now remember that I find no problem with hanging it where it is…but I’m fairly certain Hildy will refer to the rule against hanging those cheap wooden slat or matchstick blinds. You know the trouble we had with those shabby looking things.”
“Flo, I see no comparison. The American flag is far from ‘shabby’, and we should all be pleased, if not thrilled with seeing it wave.” Bob felt his patriotic zeal rising, along with his temper. “What if I refuse to take the flag down? What’s the penalty then?” He was bordering on outright defiance now.
“Well, Bob, I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I suppose the board will have to meet, and then an official letter will be sent to you to remove the flag. And next, if you refuse to comply with the directive, a fine will be set.”
“You mean the process will be drawn out like it was when we tried to get Harry Benson’s pickup truck out of the parking lot? Hell, that took months.” Bob chuckled into the phone, somewhat in derision of the way things were done by the board.
Flo took umbrage and responded, “Now, Bob, we’re all volunteers, and you of all people shouldn’t put us down. Heck, you were on the board, yourself, for awhile.”
“Sorry,” Bob replied, “I didn’t mean anything personal there, Flo. I know you all do what you can. The point that I’m getting at is this. July Fourth is two weeks away, and after that date, I’ll be glad to take the flag in. In fact, I only intended to hang it during national holiday periods, but now Hildegarde Ross has me thinking otherwise.” Again he chuckled and added, “No relation to Betsy Ross, is she?”
“Well, Bob,” Flo was heard actually laughing, herself, now, “if that’s the case, I’ll run it by Hildy and see what she thinks.” Now she became a co-conspirator. “Of course, I’m going away to visit my granddaughter in Phoenix on Friday, so it’ll be awhile before I can get back to Hildy. In fact, I don’t expect to return until after the Fourth of July.”
“Hmmm. Now that I think of it, Flo, maybe I’ll wait for the official letter to arrive, and give Old Glory a good airing. Whatta ya think of that?”
“Well, it’s difficult to convene a quorum during the summer, and I think it’s taking advantage of us all, that’s what I think…and I salute you.” They were both laughing as they hung up.