CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Arley Cleeter Asks You to Think About It

By Jack Cawthon
Those of you who read this column, and with thousands of hits daily on the Herald site, so few do, you often have seen mention of Arley Cleeter, the strange immigrant from Pennsylvania who burns books for his winter warmth.

All summer Arley has been busier than a beaver with loose dentures. He has been carrying in loads of books getting ready for the cold winds of winter, a sign that we all should heed. I caught up with him recently as he paused in his labors and found him sitting in the shade READING a book. Now, this is a danger sign I often have observed: when one is around books an overwhelming tendency emerges to read them, and the terrible result can be an intellectual in the hatching.

Before the arrival of Arley in Big Puf, the community was devoid of intellectuals. As a result, Republicans carried the ticket in most elections. With somewhere around 1,000 people in the area, Arley's presence brought the ratio of one to 1,000 into a pretty good balance. I've found that if the ratio is higher there is a tendency for voters to become liberal, which, in course, carried to extreme, could result in the election of Hillary Clinton as president (heaven help us!).

But as I enjoy needling intellectuals, and, of course, liberals, a trait I developed in college around some sensitive professors, resulting in a somewhat lower grade point average overall, I always try to draw Arley out concerning his reading matter before winter sets in and his page turners become page burners.

On this particular day, he held a book in his hands and stared off into space, obviously thinking, an ominous sign, as if enough people partake in this experience.

"I hate to break into your thoughts," I lied to Arley, as there is nothing better I like than to disrupt thinking, one reason I write this stuff. Arley looked at me with glazed eyes, another alarming trait as he didn't appear to be smoking anything, and exclaimed, "Eureka! I have found the way to riches!" (This is the same expression the inventor of the oil and gas pipeline uttered, I am told.)

When a liberal remarks that he has found the way to riches, I tend to be truly alarmed. This usually means that all of us should pool our resources for the common good, which in turn means the originator of the idea comes our uncommonly good, a free thinker now paid handsomely.

I, too, have often pondered the path to riches, but not through writing or The Payroll. So, I was anxious, although somewhat fearful, to learn the secret of Arley's revelation. As he explained it to me, he had found a new diet method by which fat people could shed their pounds, which I noted with relief, was a better idea than all of us shedding our money for another liberal weigh in.

As Arley explained it, the originators of diets grow fat and wealthy from the profits from their servings, unless they die from taking their own advice. A new craze seems to hit the country continually. There are low carbs, no carbs, no fats, trans fats, liquid shakes, and fiber fillings, and so on and on, with most dieters back where they started, eating their hearts out to no avail.

Just maybe, I considered, when people read about diets they become hungry and need snacks, one reason I prefer TV over books, as fat goes on much more pleasurably without the mental effort.

But Arley has a different approach. He had learned, no doubt from reading a book, and you can see the red flag rising, that although the brain comprises only around two percent of the body weight, it consumes around 20 to 25 percent of the calorie intake. He had come to the conclusion that if people think more intensely, they would consume more calories, and, viola, as they say in musical terms, one would become thinner.

Arley sees his diet sweeping the nation, as people would only need to think about losing weight, which most fat people do anyway, but really put heavy thoughts into it. When I expressed doubts that more discipline would be required to maintain a thought pattern, Arley had already thought of that.

He had teamed up with Bobby Gene Bubba, Big Puf's delegate to the Legislature, he told me. Bobby Gene was to introduce a bill that would provide for taxing overweight people by the pound. This would most certainly give people something to think about. But as many delegates themselves are overweight, I saw little chance of the bill's passage. However, Arley envisions a lobbying campaign in which those delegates will be portrayed as "fatheads," a chant taken up by voters all over the state, with relish, I might add! This could develop in a national trend.

The logic of the legislation is that fat people take up more space than thin people and, therefore, should pay spaciously. I agreed with this premise, as only recently, I was sandwiched between two hefty women with shopping carts in a narrow shopping aisle, resulting in an almost fatal contraction had I not been light on my feet.

At least I have alerted you to the coming of a new diet craze. Think and Grow Thin, is Arley's title for the project. It has a rather slim chance of succeeding, if you ask me. But if you think strongly enough, you might decide we need fewer intellectuals and liberals. Thick or thin, that can be food for thought!