Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Legend of Jonnybutter

Back in the old days, when the nation was young and untamed, and the western frontier was a wild place, ripe for exploration, there lived a lad named Jonnybutter. From his youth, little Jonnybutter was distressed at the fact that everywhere he went, he could not find any butter trees. His parents patiently tried to explain to him that butter comes from cows, not trees, but Jonnybutter wasn’t about to let their narrow world-view and conformist attitudes prevent him from one day traveling the land, planting sticks of butter so that future generations might enjoy the soft, yellow goodness of fresh-picked butter.

So one day, without telling his parents (who surely would have tried to stop him), little Jonnybutter took his hat, his walking stick, and a leather satchel full of sticks of butter, and he set out to make a difference in the world. From the eastern seaboard to the deep South, from the Great Lakes in the Midwest to the wild frontiers, Jonnybutter walked the earth, casting sticks of butter to the wind in the hopes that some of them would take root and grow into mighty trees that would eventually raise the cholesterol of his fellow Americans. Sure, he met with people who mocked at him, laughed at his idealism, or pointed out that sticks of butter do not, technically, "take root." But little Jonnybutter ignored their criticism and resolutely continued on his quest, leaving behind him a trail of wax paper wrappers and glistening, golden pools of rich, creamy, melted butter.

After many months, and many thousands of sticks of butter, Jonnybutter came at last to the frontier: the mighty Mississippi. While gazing at the grandeur of the river, he saw a most unusual sight. An enormous block of ice came floating along, with a Canadian stereotype riding on top of it. You see, in those days there were no refrigerators, and so people in warmer parts of the country, like New Orleans, would keep things cool with ice. People in the frigid north would put on their touques and their Toronto Maple Leafs sweaters, cut a chunk of ice out of Canada’s vast, magical Ice Mountain, and float them down the river while drinking cheap beer, to sell piece by piece to Louisianans who didn’t have the common sense to just move somewhere else. And Jonnybutter had just come across one of these almost mythical figures, who, seeing little Jonnybutter, invited him to jump aboard and sail down the river a while. Jonnybutter quickly did so.

"I’m Doug, eh?" said the stereotype with a friendly, socialistic smile. "Want some cheap beer?"

Little Johnnybutter declined, but the two floated along for hours while Doug told Jonnybutter all about New Orleans.

"What happens if we float past New Orleans? What city comes next?"

"There are no cities, eh? You just go right out into the Gulf of Mexico," said the stereotype.

"I’d like to see the Gulf of Mexico, and maybe plant some butter there."

"Take off! You can’t plant butter, let alone in the Gulf of Mexico. Hoser."

Quite understandably, Jonnybutter didn’t like being called a hoser, but he didn’t realize that the Canadian stereotype was genetically programed to use that and other nonsense words in every other sentence, at the very least. So he tried to change the subject to politics.

"Tell me about the King of Canada, and his magical palace in Toronto."

"Hey, we have a Prime Minister, eh? And he doesn’t have a palace, and the capital city is in Ottawa, not Toronto, eh?"

At this point, little Jonnybutter realized he was talking to either a fool or a madman, so he excused himself and got off the block of ice at St. Louis.

But he never did forget his dream of one day planting sticks of butter in the Gulf of Mexico.

The End