Reading DFW’s essays (“Consider the Lobster”) for the first time; happened upon this short piece on Saturday (9/3/11):
David Foster Wallace on 9/11
The Yellow Pages have nothing under Flag. There’s actual interior tension: Nobody walks by or stops their car and says, “Hey, your house doesn’t have a flag,” but it gets easier and easier to imagine people thinking it. None of the grocery stores in town turn out to stock any flags. The novelty shop downtown has nothing but Halloween stuff. Only a few businesses are open, but even the closed ones are displaying some sort of flag. It’s almost surreal. The VFW hall is a good bet, but it can’t open til noon if at all (it has a bar). The lady at Burwell’s references a certain hideous Qik-n-EZ store out by 1-74 at which she was under the impression she’d seen some little plastic flags back in the racks with all the bandannas and Nascar caps, but by the time I get there they turn out to be gone, snapped up by parties unknown. The reality is that there is not a flag to be had in this town. Stealing one out of somebody’s yard is clearly out of the question. I’m standing in a Qik-n-EZ afraid to go home. All those people dead, and I’m sent to the edge by a plastic flag. It doesn’t get really bad until people ask if I’m OK and I have to lie and say it’s a Benadryl reaction (which in fact can happen)…. Until in one more of the Horror’s weird twists of fate and circumstance it’s the Qik-n-EZ proprietor himself (a Pakistani, by the way) who offers solace and a shoulder and a strange kind of unspoken understanding, and who lets me go back and sit in the stock room amid every conceivable petty vice and indulgence America has to offer and compose myself, and who only slightly later, over styrofoam cups of a strange kind of tea with a great deal of milk in it, suggests, gently, construction paper and “Magical Markers,” which explains my now-beloved homemade flag.