local news

All the farmers gathered in the late morning at the town store to share the local news and weather reports.  They came in their dirty overalls and work boots, fresh from morning chores, and sat around the wood-burning stove to chew the fat along with juicy wads of tobacco.  And she was the topic today, one of their own, gone off to school and then the big city to seek a different life.

“Say what you want about her… she ain’t perfect, I know, and now she’s a God damn city slicker on top of everything else.  But, by God, she’s the best overachieving thinker I’ve seen in a long time.  She can dwell with the best of them – and still get nothing done for all of it.”

Her dad leaned over and spit into the feed bucket on the floor near the woodburning stove.  He wiped away the spiddle dangling from his lower lip. The other farmers followed suit in orderly succession, plunk, plunk, plunk, some of them slurping back their chaw juice.  He adjusted his cap, a quick tuck of the hand under the bill to rake his matted hair.  The other farmers adjusted their caps, too.

“And they pay her for it, too.  Craziest thing I’ve seen – not like she has anything real to show for it neither.  Just some words on a piece of paper.  Did I ever say, she’s the youngest person ever to receive a degree in professional navelgazing?  Even the President con-grat-u-lated her.  I mean, I don’t care much for him, but he is the President and that’s gotta count for something if he wants to shake yer hand.”  The other farmers nodded their heads in silent agreement.   He chimed on, “She says the other day to her mom and me that the National Contemplative Society catalogued all her frettin’, which – heck – it was a lot of stuff.  And all those worrisome thoughts she had, they are part of some fancy collection at the Library of Congress.”

They raised their eyebrows, collectively impressed.  “The Library of Congress?  I heard of them.  Su-weet,” one said under his breath.

He continued, “Why, they even gave her a giant  statue of a belly button scratched up with all her accomplishments.  I think she keeps it in her office on the 55th floor of a big building in the city.  Think about that, boys: She’s gotta take an elevator every day to get to her office, even.”

They grunted and then silence yawned over them.  He spit again and adjusted his cap.  “Yep.   She still can’t milk a cow worth a shit, but I guess she done alright.”

With that report done, he returned to the more urgent business at hand: “I heard it’s gonna be another week without rain.”  And then all the farmers joined in a grumpy chorus about the weather.


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