As Told to Scott Clevenger
My name is Lachlan Henley. I'm 23 years old, and I grew up in the small community of Blanched, Connecticut. I'm not sure why they picked me to be principal Flagboy to His Serene Majesty Ryan Zinke, First of His Name, Rider of Jets, Breaker of Regulations, and Queen of All the Interiors. I mean, I wasn't in the Army or the Boy Scouts or anything, but I did work as a PA one summer during junior college on Martha Stewart's TV show, and maybe that's why, because this job is all about etiquette and protocol and stuff. But more than that...it's about honoring the flag. Specifically, the flag we had designed and made by AAA Custom Flag & Banner of Sepsis, Maryland...I think I'm supposed to mention their name, 'cause we got a discount.
You see, raising His Majesty's Own Standard over a building to show Queen Zinke is in residence...Well, I mean, that's an ancient military ritual -- so ancient nobody in the military's actually heard of it -- so it's kind of boring. I can say that, right? C'mon, you've seen military guys when a flag goes up or down; they just stand there like they're all playing freeze tag while somebody blows a sad song on a trumpet or a French horn or whatever the hell it is. Bor. RING.
But the Queen has a sense of style. He likes to zoom off in private jets to exclusive destinations like the Virgin Islands -- not when they're all soggy and gross after a hurricane, but like, when the weather's nice and there's a lot of European tourists, 'cause sometimes they take their tops off! It's true! Me and my friends Liam and Ethan and Blake went to St. Croix for Spring Break one year, and we all felt like we were the mayor of Nip City!
So I guess when you think about, I do have some government experience after all [laughs]!
More than most of the Cabinet, anyway. [Laughter dies. Smile is slowly replaced by a pensive and foreboding look as he stares across the Interior Department parapet toward the Potomac]
Anyway, so it's a solemn ritual that proves His Majesty's commitment to transparency by showing you what building he's in. Most of the other cabinet secretaries, you gotta file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if they're in their office or not, but I haul down the flag when Queen Zinke leaves the office, and raise it over the Starbucks on E Street NW whenever he takes his motorcade for a macchiato. So really, people should be thanking me, instead of being such dicks, 'cause now they know which Starbucks to get their coffee at if they want to be in the radiant presence of the Queen of All the Interiors, or at least rub elbows with a guy who's seen areolas in the Caribbean.
When you get past all the glitz and the ritual and the bullshit, this job is about solemnity. First, I put on white gloves. Then I unfold the flag (refolding it's a bitch, but I took Elective Origami at Phillips Academy when I got cut from the Lacrosse team). Then I turn on my Bose SoundLink Revolve+ Bluetooth speaker, and play "God Save the Queen" as the motorcade approaches the building. But you gotta be constantly thinking in this job, 'cause the first time I hit the wrong playlist on my iPhone and accidentally blasted the Sex Pistols' version.
It's an awesome and humbling responsibility, but as I look back I realize how much I've grown as a person these past few months, and how much I've learned (like, always bring sun screen to work, 'cause you never know when you're gonna wind up standing on the roof). In some ways this has been the hardest job I've ever had, but like I told my friends last week when we were doing shots at the Caliente Cab Company in Arlington (it was Thirsty Thursday), I know that ultimately I'll miss it when I have to leave next week to take up my new position as National Security Advisor.