Helter Shelter

Tit for Tat

Just when I thought the Feds were nicely focused on the serious business of defending the shores and toting the mail, I hear that the Department of Justice has spent good money to buy clothes for a couple of half-naked 60-year-old statues.

Now you might be wondering: why would they do that? I'm going to tell you. In the Great Hall of our Department of Justice, there are two cast-aluminum statues. Majesty of Law is a boy statue, Spirit of Justice is a girl statue. Majesty has an aluminum loincloth to cover his manparts. So far so good. But Spirit is wearing a tunic, and don't you know, it slid off her right shoulder. One of Spirit's girls is just hanging out there in the breeze, and she looks a little chilly, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Well, our good folks up at the Department of Justice know a woman who needs a shawl when they see one. So they ordered big blue drapes for both statues.

That would be just fine with me, except for two things: First, the drapes cost $8,000. That means some working-class American - and I'm guessing it was me - worked a year or more to buy clothes for a pair of statues that were made half-naked, have been half-naked since 1930-something, and ought to stay half-naked.

Second, I just can't put up with lame excuses. The Department of Justice has been renting drapes to cover the statues during formal occasions. Those rented drapes cost $2,000 a lick. So now the Feds are telling us that buying the drapes outright is going to save us money.

Sweet Baby Jesus! The people in charge of dressing America's statues are worse financial planners than those unfortunate citizens who rent to own. This is yet another situation where somebody should've checked with me. You government statue-dressers, listen up: Quit renting drapes, and don't buy any drapes either. Just let the statues go half-naked. How much trouble can one breast cause?

Since this one bare breast has caused so much hubbub, I felt a journalistic duty to learn more about it. If the dang Feds hadn't taken my last-year's tax money to buy a drape for the thing, I might've been able to fly up to Washington to look at it up close. But no. All I can do is get on the Internet and look at pictures.

Here's what I've found: It is nicely rounded, neither flattened on the sides, nor ski-sloped. It is proportionate, neither uncommonly expanded nor atrophied. It is symmetrical, with a realistic perky nipple pointing dead ahead, neither low-beamed nor hideously elongated like Farrah Fawcett's in her 1978 Playboy spread. In short, it is an aluminum breast free of gross defects, and well worthy of display.

So why in the world do the Feds want to cover it up? I see two likely reasons. Most likely, we've got prudes - people who just want that thing wrapped up and put away, before boys see it and start in on themselves. People who've never looked a breast straight in the eye, and aren't about to start now. People who think other people might look at an aluminum breast and start getting ideas, and not the kind of ideas we want around here.

Or, it could be that Attorney General Ashcroft is embarrassed getting his picture taken with that boob in the background. Sure, the photographers lie down on the floor so they can get Ashcroft's head lined up with Spirit's unharnessed girlpart, but so what? If Ashcroft had the essential manparts, he'd just walk up to the mike and say, "I see what you people are doing. You're trying to get that bare-breasted statue in the background, just like you did with poor old Ed Meese when he stood in this same spot, talking about getting tough on pornography. Well, it's not going to work with me. I'll walk up there and hug the thing. Take all the pictures you want. I'm a grown man, and I'm not afraid of any half-naked statue. You people need to grow up, and get your minds out of the gutter. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

But that's not going to happen. They're going to cover up the statues. Still, I would like to offer two other solutions to this problem, just in case anybody at the DOJ is interested.

Here's what I'd do: I'd just take Majesty, and move him right up in front of Spirit, face to face. That way, all protruberances - male and female - would be hidden. When gutter-minded photographers take Ashcroft's picture, they'll just get Majesty's muscular back. If that's too freaky, somebody could throw one drape over both statues, giving them a little privacy and saving us taxpayers $4,000 anyhow.

Another solution: Just crate up both statues, and send them to my old buddy Jim Draeger, up in Madison, Wisconsin. He's an architectural historian, and these two whopping-big Art Deco figurines would fit right in with his personal collection. He'd take good care of them, I know.

Most likely, Jim would put the statues out on his front lawn, so everybody could enjoy them. I seriously doubt that anybody in Madison would complain.