Whenever a prominent person in the United States passes on, we fly our flags at half-mast. Other countries employ wailing and gnashing of the teeth but we feel that our method is quieter and requires fewer emergency visits to the dentist. Below is a FAQ that might be helpful in understanding the practice:
Q. How did the practice of half-mast flags start?
A. It started because the people who hoisted the flags would have been too sad to raise them all the way up the pole. Now, with anti-depressants and our incredibly short attention spans, the whole practice seems kinda…you know…silly. But, are you gonna be the first one to stand against it? I didn’t think so…
Q. How do I know where half-mast is on the flagpole?
A. Just fold the pole so that the top gently brushes the ground; then, unfold it and check for a crease.
Q. Who decides if a person is worthy of a flag-lowering upon his death?
A. The president, unless the flag-lowering is due to his death; then, it goes to the vice president, followed by the speaker of the house, followed by Leonard Nimoy.
Q. If a president seems to die, but later turns out to have been alive the whole time, how do I fly the flag?
A. This depends upon when it is determined that he is still alive. If it is during the period of half-mast flag, the flag is simply returned to normal height; however, if the flag has been flown at half-mast, then returned to normal height after the period expires and THEN the president is found to be alive, the flag should be flown at “double-mast” to make up for the period of half-mast. This will require a flagpole extender and a warning light.
Q. If a president passes away and it is determined that he has donated organs, how should the American flag be flown?
A. The mass of the organs donated should be divided by the mass of the entire body. This should be converted into a percentage to be subtracted from the total length the flag is lowered.
Q. What if someone breaks into his tomb and steals some of his body parts to create a Frankenstein-type monster?
A. Follow the algorithm for donated organs UNLESS one of two things happens: If the head of the president is used for the Frankenstein monster, the flag should be returned to normal mast; if the resulting monster runs amok, the flag should continue at half-mast and the incident should be ignored as much as possible…
Q. What if the president is buried and rises as a zombie?
A. It all depends upon what kind of zombie he becomes. If he becomes a voodoo-type zombie (i.e. the slow-moving completely submissive servant of an obeah priest or priestess) then the flag is returned to normal height. If he becomes a George Romero-type flesh-eating zombie, it is the end of days anyway and the flag, however unpatriotic this may sound, will become irrelevant…
Q. What if he becomes a vampire?
A. Then, God help us all!
Q. What if two prominent Americans die during the same half-mast period?
A. Then, lay the flag on the sidewalk in front of the pole and pray that a third one doesn’t die, forcing you to bury the flag to a depth half the length of the flag pole.
Q. If I am burning a flag in protest and STILL want to convey the appropriate respect to the dead prominent American, what is the procedure?
A. Just burn half the flag.
Q. What would happen if someone flew his flag at full-mast prematurely?
A. Anarchy…followed by oligarchy…then monarchy… and finally by a nice soaking rain. The dead would rise from their graves except for the ones that were buried upside down. They’d dig towards China and probably burn up in the Earth’s mantle…
The other eleven hundred pages of this report, including an appendix of all of the stupider questions, will be distributed to all personal early next month. If anyone has a question before then, please feel free to submit it to me through Email. If we pay attention and work together, no prominent American will feel slighted after he or she dies. The last thing that this country needs, besides wildebeests, is a lot of angry dead guys waiting for us in the afterlife.