Maxine's solution was to drape the flag over the cross, which is disturbing in about sixty ways but mostly reminded me of this thing Edith Wharton wrote to somebody (Google says Barrett Wendell, July 19, 1919) that I've been obsessing on lately. It's not really that insightful about today's world, more like redundant, but it gives me the shits that she said it almost a hundred years ago: "How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be 'American' before (or in contradistinction to) being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, & having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries?" I'll take this purely meaningless object that we imbue with meaning and drape it over this other purely meaningless object that we imbue with meaning, and somehow I have done something. And meanwhile, Bill's fangs are like a snake, he's a bucket of blood in a shapely sausage casing, and the only thing special about him is that his blood carries some kind of virus or something that makes you awesome. The Flag, The Cross, The Stranger.
Sookie's sad when Sam tells her to sit back, and relax, because she's never known how to do that. I like how pro-powers Sam is, I like that he's her advocate for that, even if he doesn't really understand it. Or, as we'll see, the concept of self-control. Adele welcomes the congregation to the meeting; Jason smiles around at them all, completely in love with each one. She starts the procedure.
"Now, our guest tonight is a gentleman who, despite what you might have heard, is one of us. His family was among the first to settle in Bon Temps, and he bravely fought for Louisiana in the War For Southern Independence. Let us welcome one of the original sons of Bon Temps back to the town that he helped build. I give you First Lieutenant William Thomas Compton." The applause is better than you might think; Sam doesn't join in. He watches Bill take the stage; he doesn't take his eyes off him.
"Thank you, Mrs. Stackhouse. If you'll pardon me for a moment..." Bill flourishes The Flag off The Cross and puts it back on its pole as he speaks. Jason pretty much transcends all time and space for a second, as that one gesture manages to encode so much meaning, about men and gods and nations, wars, the unfortunate miscegenation between the two that results in fundamentalism and large-scale acts both religious and secular based less on love than hate and profit, or about the ways in which the ties that bind us and the shared ground beneath our feet will always be stronger than the forces that try to pull us apart, that no matter who we marry or whether or not we're immortal at least we're all Americans, and isn't that the point, or does that truth hide something deeper within it, like a Cross below a Flag, or else he's fucked up on drugs. Everybody else gasps, and all the charming from last week just drains out of old Bill. I hate smug. I hate Smarmy Bill more than anything besides Zach Braff. "As a patriot of this great nation, I wouldn't dream of putting myself before Old Glory." Sookie's impressed; their entire breakup was based on an allergy flareup, and here he is trying to administer the meds.