This patriotic plank steak has in mind one unsung American in particular. Just your average hero, the kind of guy who doesn't think twice about coming to the defense of the red, white and blue.
Jeff Sullens is a 49-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, man -- emphasis on the word man -- who takes seriously his love for the United States and all that it stands for. He does good work for the heartland as a computer specialist for the National Rural Health Association. But he also has a passion for the wild blue yonder -- in his spare time, Sullens helps organize classic air shows, where pilots can gather with their old-time flying machines.
Sullens also loves another kind of machine, his sporty, two-door auto, in which he often cruises down Ward Parkway, enjoying the scenery of a land he cherishes. Maybe that's why it bothers him so much when he ends up getting stuck in a weekly traffic jam.
Sullens' driving reverie is interrupted every Tuesday by a group of war protesters who, week in and week out for more than a year, have taken over a part of Ward Parkway's wide median, holding signs that denounce the U.S. government and its invasion of Iraq.
Seeing the anti-Bush agitators never fails to make Sullens' blood boil. "Basically," he tells the Strip, "I just think the things that they're protesting, they don't know anything about."
Naturally, Sullens has an urge to strike back in the name of Uncle Sam. But with no weapons of mass destruction at his disposal, the airman falls back on another kind of ordnance.
Sullens shows his displeasure for demonstrators by spitting on them.
"They're the same group of people spitting on the Vietnam veterans in the 1960s, and turnabout's fair play," says the angry patriot.
Sullens downplays just how successful he's been at lobbing loogies at the longhairs.
"I've never been anywhere close to hitting any one of them," he says. "It's just to show them that I have a disgust for them ... it's just a symbolism thing," he says. The protesters in turn can only shake their fists in a pathetic comeback. "They yell and gesture at me and motion with their signs like they're getting back at me."
The Strip figures Sullens is just being modest about the effectiveness of his strafing runs. Actually, he's reportedly a deadly aim with his mucus missiles.
Roger Goldblatt, who organizes the demonstrations, reports that Sullens, in fact, has hit at least one protester with his saliva sidewinder. And over the past few months, Sullens' sorties have become so regular that the protesters have managed repeatedly to write down the license-plate number of his car.
A check of motor-vehicle records led the Strip to Sullens, who, after a little coaxing, debriefed us on his mission: "They stand out and obstruct traffic, and they got guys desecrating the flag and running around with signs that have accusations and no truth to them. It's wrong and it's obnoxious."
The Strip, for one, feels safer knowing that Sullens has taken it upon himself to discipline the anti-war types with his, uh, expectorations. If someone doesn't draw a wet line in the median, our freeways could soon be shut down by slogan-chanting college crazies.
Not that Goldblatt seems like the dangerous sort.
"I never spit on a Vietnam veteran," Goldblatt replied after we told him what Sullens said. He also disagrees with Sullens' accusation that he and his sign-wielding friends are uninformed. "Bush started an aggressive, first-strike war based on mythical weapons of mass destruction and a mythical connection between Iraq and 9/11. These were lies by our president. We know what we are talking about.
"I cannot agree with this individual's tactics of spitting on people he does not agree with," Goldblatt says, and we gotta admit he has a point. What if Sullens has a cold? Or worse?
Goldblatt says a Kansas City, Missouri, police sergeant told him that Sullens could be charged with assault for landing his spit-bombs.
"We never stand in traffic," Goldblatt says, countering another of Sullens' salvos. "Nor do we obstruct traffic. We stand on the grass roots in the median strip." (Grass roots -- yeah, good one, Roger.) "I have a 2-by-3-foot American flag that I unfurl. I in no way desecrate it, but we have that flag to show that dissenting with unwise policies is the highest form of patriotism."
Sure, but now that Duhbya has handed things back over to the Iraqis, isn't it time to stop slowing down traffic so Sullens can enjoy his drive?
"We will continue our weekly ... rallies until November 2, and probably until the January 2005 inauguration," Goldblatt says.
That's excellent news for our salivating Sullens. That should give him plenty of time to perfect that deadly aim with his puss by then. -- as told to Tony Ortega