By Jack Cawthon|
When I walked into the Over Easy Inn recently, I found the mood jubilant. Jubilant isn't a word used much around Big Puf, except, perhaps, by Arley Cleeter, who has a tendency to read too many books before burning them.
For once, the atmosphere didn't seem related to the all-vegetarian diet of hops and barley, which taken to extremes, can account, to some extent, for global warming mixed with bouts of tropical depression.
For a while, as I waited for the euphoria to settle, or explode, I was taken aback by the revelers. Slowly, as do most thoughts come in Big Puf, I became aware that the joy was centered around the president of the United States, George Junior Boosh, as he is known locally.
As the outsider that I am, I don't want to exert undo attention to the political sciences I had absorbed as a learner, or inmate, depending on your charitable opinion of the state's largest mental institution situated in Morgantown. But, finally, my inquiring mind could contain itself no longer, and I asked subtly: What the (bleep) is going on?
Homer Bob, who stood behind the bar and often stood beside the local barrister, Voy Dire, Big Puf's answer to both torts and tarts, as he made his way shakily back to his legal pad, told me that George Junior Boosh had solved all that ails the country. For a moment, the thought raced through me that Bush had resigned, but assuming that there was more to the story, in a Paul Harvey moment I waited to hear more.
There was no doubt this was a Bush bash bout of abundance. Some devious mind has pondered that if 70 percent of the nation disapproves of the job the president is doing, with only 30 percent approving, then what is it that those thirty per-centers don't understand about the situation. Eureka, as the pipeline magnate exclaimed as he lit a match to find the natural gas leak, I had found the elusive 30 percent. They were in Big Puf!
If there is anyone anywhere who doesn't understand a situation, it is those folks in Big Puf. They don't understand that they live in poverty, going about their happy ways; their education system is a mess with poor schools, and, by all rights, they all should be on Prozac like everyone else who is normal in society.
They certainly don't understand that when wealthy liberals in the big cities send them care packages to help "the poor people of Appalachia," that those same liberals condemn our Senator Byrd when he sends his continuing aid, and with a sneer call is "pork." They enjoy it all, not looking a gift bird in the mouth. Yes, if there ever was a people who don't understand the situation it's the good folks of Big Puf, unless, of course, you consider Congress.
But I still needed to know what they didn't understand and were celebrating. Finally, Burvil, who can be extra helpful when the occasion calls for it, or when he calls for a dollar or two, tried in his way to explain that George Junior had solved the problem of"them there aliens" coming in and taking our jobs, enrolling in our colleges for a cheap education, or, worst of all, running off with our "wimmen." Beside, Burvil added, they "don't talk too good" and can't tell the difference of "up the crick, or down the holler."
Well, if there was one thing I learned, not meaning to brag about my mental capacity, in the institution it was tolerance for the rights of others, especially in a manner of degrees.
I couldn't stand the injustice any longer, and I called out loudly that those poor Mexicans deserved an opportunity to better their lives and instill hopes for their families. At once, the room grew so quiet you could have heard a pop top pop, and all eyes were trained on me, and suddenly I felt like a Baptist at a Scientology convention. "We ain't a talkin' about no Mexicans," Okey Hanshaw exclaimed, "it's them (bleeping) Pennsylvanians." And a cheer of agreement went up and about.
"Yes," came a cry from among the multitudes, it is time they were kept in their place, and George Junior Boosh was going to do just that by sending troops to the border up on the "Mason-Dixie line." "Shoot a few of 'em," someone shouted, and another cheer went forth among the froth. All the while, Arley Cleeter, an ex-Pennsylvanian of long emigration, sat in the back with his nose in a book. No one gave him a thought, as someone who burns books and had long ago burned his bridges had become naturalized in the full sense of the word.
Then the cry went up to send troops along the Ohio River as well. "Keep them flatland hillbillies out!" I thought this was a little much, as what if those were kinfolk who had crossed the border to better their way of life and were returning to their homeland. Omer Hanshaw explained to me that when a hillbilly goes to Ohio, in two weeks he starts talking funny, changes his name around, and buys a fancy car. The worst part of that, I was told, is that he then drives on the wrong side of the road when he comes back home. "Ever foller one of the suckers with Ohio plates?" a Hanshaw from over on Little Wheeze asked. I was convinced.
Unlike members of Congress, I know when I'm licked. I proposed a toast, although with a low calorie, non-fat dairy drink, to President George Junior Boosh. "Long may he live," I shouted. And I meant it. We ain't seen nothing yet if Dick Cheney tries to fill his combat boots.