COUNTY AGENT GUY
This is the time of year when holiday newsletters are commonly composed. Sheaves of paper are cranked through mimeograph machines (Google it, you whippersnappers) and mail carriers are striving mightily to fit the plethora of ponderous holiday epistles into standard mailboxes.
Many of these missives paint an overly rosy picture. This is particularly true during an election year, when armies of political spinmeisters are suddenly hungry for work.
For example, if a holiday newsletter says something like “Bob and I began the year with an extended stay in sunny Rio,” the truth might be “We decided to skip the country when the authorities began to ask nasty questions about our prairie dog smuggling, um, that is, business.”
And should the epistler write “Zach, our oldest, continues to be amazing,” a truer statement might be “We saw Zach exactly once during this past year, when he emerged from his basement bedroom dressed like a Hobbit. We’re pretty sure he’s back down there now because the food we leave by his door is again disappearing.”
Compare this to a missive that a farm wife – a no-nonsense woman who has zero tolerance for baloney – might write:
“Well, another year has gone by and Hank and I are still here on the farm, although I sometimes wonder how we manage.
“We had a wonderfully nice winter last year, warm with hardly any snow. This upset Hank, who groused that no snow in the winter meant no crop in the fall. Truth is, he was just disappointed that he didn’t get to use his new snow blower.
“We spent the evening of my birthday chasing cows by the romantic glow of the pickup headlights. Hank said it was my fault since I forgot to lock the gate. That simply isn’t so. I think Hank forgot to get me a card and the cows getting out was a diversion. He gave me a very nice card the next day. He doesn’t know this, but I found a receipt that shows it was purchased that morning.
“We got an early start on the spring fieldwork, which upset Hank to no end. He was constantly grumbling that we would dry out, so I asked him why he was bothering to plant. He just looked down and didn’t say anything.
“After we finished planting, it rained. And rained. And rained some more. Hank stood glaring out the kitchen window and muttering about how we would never get a crop with all this water and that we should start building an ark.
I told him to go right ahead, just so long as it got him out of the house. He instead drove to the grain elevator for the umpteenth time that week to check on the markets.
“A few days later I saw Hank staring off into space. I asked what was up and he said he was lost in thought. Which made sense as that’s unfamiliar territory for him.
“Hank said he was thinking about getting one of those ‘smart’ phones. I told him to go right ahead, just so long as it got him out of the house.
“I never heard such language as during the first days after Hank got his new phone. He wasted more than a week setting it up, all the while claiming it would save time and make him more productive.
“Hank is more productive, alright. He must have watched a thousand cat videos by now. Between that and his fantasy football addiction and constantly checking the markets and the weather, he has the attention span of a gnat.
“I told Hank that monitoring his new phone was taking too much of his time, so he downloaded an app that makes a ‘ka-ching’ sound when grain prices go up and a flatulence noise when they go down. Hank used to blame the poor dog for that, but now can pin it on his new little buddy.
“One day I glanced out the window and remarked that it looked like rain. Hank didn’t take his eyes from the tiny screen and said, ‘We have a 73 percent chance of showers, but let’s check the radar.’
“I asked why he couldn’t simply step outside and look at the sky and he began to do a web search for an answer.
“Hank predicted a total crop failure at least dozen times. Our crops turned out about average, but the price information overload scared him into selling at dead bottom.
“I’ve secretly fiddled with Hank’s phone and disabled its annoying sounds. I also programmed some important reminders into its calendar.
“So, things are looking up for this coming year. Because at least Hank won’t be forgetting my birthday.
“Best wishes this holiday season
Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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