A modest proposal

Saturday, we made our last visit to the Kansas State Fair. The final count is two trips with the family, one trip by the family without me, and one trip just with Wife to see Huey Lewis and the News, whose members — I don’t care if you hated the 80’s and Back to the Future — still have more talent in their little pinkies than most of today’s pop artists have in their whole pinkies. (Extra points if you tell me what movie that pinky line comes from, and the actress whose terrifically irritating voice issued it.)

The point is, we love the fair. And we love America. It’s hard for me to discern, in fact, how anyone can love the latter and not the former. Sure, you may love an idealized version of America, but I don’t see how you can claim to love the real America — the kind that overeats and does things with its kids and loves clever machinery — and not love the fair. But that’s a topic for another time and, hopefully, another place.

What I really wanted to say is that, as many of you know, I’m not a fan of big government programs. Being at the fair, however, made me cognizant of a growing national dilemma that really does necessitate government action if we are to conquer it. That dilemma, nay, that national disaster, is the utter absence of mirrors in too many American homes.

How else to explain the pregnant woman in a stained wife-beater, with a pack of Marlboro’s tucked under her bra strap? Or the shirtless long-haired man with a beer belly scarcely restrained by the chains straining to hold the two sides of his leather vest together? How about the phenomenon witnessed not only at fairs, but in all public gatherings any more, the exposed midriff/muffin-top combination?

The only sane explanation is that these poor souls haven’t a piece of reflective glass between them. Let’s face it: we may not be able to untangle the web of regulations and programs that foul up our nation’s health care system, but by golly, we can certainly see to it that a man never leaves the house wearing plaid shorts that display fifteen different colors, none of which comes close to matching his overly tight t-shirt.

Americans have shown that when we all put our minds to something, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish, whether it’s killing off all the buffalo, whipping the Huns, or discovering new and better things to deep-fry and eat. We’re a nation of friends, people. And friends don’t let friends dress like drunken rodeo clowns.


  1. Tom

    As an expat who recently spent a few weeks back home I have to agree wholeheartedly and will support, from afar, your “Friends Don’t Let Friends Dress Like Drunken Rodeo Clowns” campaign. Although FDLFDLDRC might need some spiffing up if you want a catchy acronym people will remember.

    I was also shocked at how many people are wearing tattoos. When I were a lad, and despite my appearance it wasn’t that long ago, the only people who would wear tattoos in public were the merchant marine, members of the armed forces, and ex-cons.

    I believe the lady was Katherine Hepburn in The Desk Set, with Spencer Tracy. I personally don’t think her voice is irritating but as a Yankee perhaps I wouldn’t.

  2. Michale

    Every year we go to the Kansas State Fair. Every year I ask myself “Where do these people come from and where do they get these T-Shirts”!!

  3. David McGinnis

    Citizens Against Rodeo Clowns and Abnormal Sloven Spectacles.


    sorry, I got carcass stuck in my head and i had to make it work.

  4. Tari

    As further research I recommend a visit to a large water park. You really need to see what these same people look like when they decide to take off most of their clothes and engage in water sports.

    We love Schlitterbahn as much as you love the fair, but we have a similar experience there every year. Yet how can we not go back? There’s no better place on earth than one where you can both (1) eat fried bread dough and (2) play in the water on a hot Texas day.

  5. Scott

    A constant refrain with my sons is, “So what message do you think you’re sending by wearing that? Is that the message you want to send?” I don’t think most people even think about that anymore. Thus the proliferation of hip-huggers on college campuses wherein said hips do not entirely fit.

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