Dear Dr. Boli: Why do Pennsylvania and Virginia have basically the same flag, except for the scribbly bits in the middle that no one can see from more than two feet away? —Sincerely, A Confused Marylander.
Dear Sir or Madam: In a burst of goodwill and reconciliation, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which had suffered some of the bloodiest battles ever fought on American soil, adopted these flags after the Civil War, so that there could never again be a conflict between their two states. The similarity which you point out makes any sort of battle simply impossible, as no one could tell which side was which. The flags were first unfurled together at a ceremony in Gettysburg in 1868, and the reaction was almost uniformly positive. No one noticed that the prone tyrant in the Virginia flag, killed by a patriotic classical figure, was actually an accurate portrait of Governor Geary of Pennsylvania.
Dear Dr. Boli: My boyfriend has suddenly developed an interest in line dancing. Why? —Sincerely, A Desperate Woman.
Dear Madam: See your physician at once. There are several serious diseases of which line dancing may be a symptom, and early detection is essential if the treatment is to be successful in reversing the damage. Baumann’s dementia, in particular, is not at all uncommon and is extremely contagious, so it is vital that you have yourself examined and tested as well.
If the tests are negative and no disease is found, then we must look for psychological causes of the disorder. Most therapists today believe that line dancing is a kind of outlet through which men express certain basic urges no longer considered acceptable in modern society: in particular, to be blunt and plain-spoken, the urge to dance minuets. Fortunately there is increasing acceptance, at least among the educated, that a preference for minuets can be a normal part of an emotionally healthy life. If your boyfriend is otherwise healthy and normal, you may be able to wean him away from line dancing and toward what he truly desires, if you are willing to overcome your own preconceptions and prejudices.