We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Dear Sister:

I Shall write on, as long as I stay, tho’ I should have nothing but Silliness to write; for I know you divert yourself at Nights with what I write. I Shall be glad to, for I have had more Trials, and more Vexation, all from the same Quarter.

Duties I have many, but, of late, my Time is much occupied by searching for the Enigma I weekly share with Readers. I am glad to do it, though in Truth, ‘Tis, as I have told you before, no Small thing to find a matter Suitable! Well, I was Glad, indeed, when a kind and learn’d gentleman, a Mr. S——— said to me that the origins of our Fair city’s flag were Muddled. To be sure, I was surprized, and forgetting myself inquir’d is not the History of the Flag taught to each school child? Well, I felt Warm for asking for he has written many a book on Washington, and would know better than I or anyone what is known of the flag! Kindly, he overlook’d my Impudence, and only answer’d that many things Normal elsewhere remain Clouded here.

I must tell you that our flag is a plain thing; three Red stars above two Red bars on a field pure, and In Truth, it had never before given me Pause. The gentleman further said he would tell me what the stars did Not represent, and so he did. I know nothing of Heraldry or even Symbolism, but in all foolishness, I vainly put forth explanations. Mr. S——— confided that his good wife, a woman equally Qualified in matters Historical, had an Inkling, but had never Verified her theory.

I was Satisfied that, having Puzzled such Fine people, the flag was surely a Mystery suitable for the Public! And so, last week I hinted the topic printed forthwith. (Tho’ I must pronounce these clues a mixed blessing, for the alerted Reader hastens to answer and in so doing soils my blissful ignorance. ‘Tis easier to be blind than to pretend to stumble!)

Well, yesterday, his Lordship sent for me. I went with great Terror; for though I knew not how I had erred I expected he would storm. He bade me shut the door, and told me thatMr. J——— had assured him, most vigorously, that the Mystery I had chosen was no Mystery at all, but a subject we had at one time addressed in response to the letter of a Reader! Tho’ I could have said that it was his Lordship who had chosen the flag over other items offered, saying that it had an everyday appeal, which, in truth it has, wisely I held my Tongue. He instructed me that, if Mr. J——— was not in error, I would be forced to admit that I alone was uninstruct’d as to the intent of the flag!

O’ the unparallel’d Wickedness, and Stratagems, and Devices of those who call themselves Gentlemen, and pervert the Design of Providence, in giving them ample means to do good to their own Perdition, and to the Ruin of poor oppressed Ignorance!

Well, you may believe how uneasily I passed the Time till we examined all the Letters! Does your Heart not ake for me?—I am sure mine flutter’d about like a Bird in a Cage new Caught. O Dementia, said I to my self, why art thou so foolish and fearful! Thou has done no harm!

Well, our Search was at last complet’d, and he confided no such letter could be found. I brighten’d up at once upon these welcome Words! How happy am I, to be turn’d Loose, with that sweet Companion my Ignorance!—O’ may that be always my Companion!

Till next week your most afflicted and dutiful friend,

Dementia Folly

Make your English teachers cringe! Put pen to paper and shew us the meaning of D.C.’s Flag. A Washington City Paper T-shirt will be awarded to the best explanation. The answers will appear in next week’s edition. Send your description, or suggestions of things that have been puzzling you, to: Mysteries, Washington City Paper, 2390 Champlain St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. Our fax number is (202) 462-8323, or e-mail us at MysteriesWashCP.com. No phone calls, please.