It was a tough decision, but if you’ve followed the popular culture over the last dozen years or so, you’re well aware that more cowbell is the consensus modern-day answer to all the great moral and philosophical questions.

The sages of yesteryear asked, “What is happiness?” and “What is required to give us a sense of well-being, or having lived a satisfactory life?” They proposed many different long-winded answers of varying complexity, and here in the 21st Century we have condensed and simplified all that, trimmed it and boiled it down to the vital essence, from the very heart of which emerges … “more cowbell.”


It A.’s all the Q.’s, from “What is truth?” to “What should we spend this money on?”

You either understand more cowbell or you don’t. If you’re older, you probably don’t, but it’s in the lingo of all the youngsters, and you need only ask one of them.


Plato wouldn’t “get” it. The Venerable Bede wouldn’t. John McCain would have to have it explained to him, and he still wouldn’t “get” it. But whoever pickled and ‘matered your last Whopper would, and it is to him or her, or to both of them, that the future belongs, after all.

The profundity of the implications here just knocks me out. For instance, think of what just the tiniest additional bit of cowbell would’ve done for Hitler, and thereby for humanity.


Think what it would’ve done for Phyllis Schlafly. For country music comedy star String Bean.

Among the other stimulus options, we thought of buying a whole tank of gas — at one time! in just one visit to the pump! — but we didn’t want to be considered ostentatious. You ever get a reputation for ostentatiousness that obscene you’re just screwed from then on. It’s like Exxon and its quarterly profit reports, having to set a new gouging record every time.

Conventional-minded as always, our first thought, as almost everybody else’s, was to buy a bass boat, or anyhow to make the first payment on one, and live it up on Greers Ferry or Ouachita or on the old Waddell stockpond over here east of town until they came to get the bastard after we missed the second payment and the third.

But then we realized that getting a bass boat would mean Huckabee would be on the front doorstep the next morning with his gimme hand out, wanting us to gift it on him, acting like we owed it to him somehow, as anything that anybody has that he wants is owed to him, on account of his agreeing to go on being the one who’ll take anything of value off of anybody’s hands anywhere at any time.


You get a reputation for grasping, and it follows you as surely as the one for gouging. I bet he’s picked up 500 bass boats that way, not even counting those predating the current election campaign.

I thought for a time that I might could finally buy me that shoat I’ve hankered for, and let it free-range around the neighborhood with the stray cats and coyotes, the way Alta Faubus’s leghorns used to forage out to the limits of hollering at the Manse, but that bucolic notion died under kibosh from Better Half, citing property-value concerns or something of the sort.

Probably just as well inasmuch as a footloose pig hereabout would almost certainly be given to wandering over by the old Preacher Bob place, now owned by Mr. Westmoreland, our insurance agent, who has taken to whanging at the not uncommon bothersome trespasser feral swine out there with a shoulder-held grenade launcher, or so I’ve heard, and I wouldn’t want that to happen to a pig of mine, even though I’m not particularly sentimental about pigs and am not at all anthropomorphic, at least not to any foolish extent.

The pig idea was remnant pathos from some recent rueful melancholy introspection on my part in recent days that focused on Billy Attwood’s show chickens. According to an article in our local paper, Billy won just about all the major show-chicken awards at the state fair last fall. It was a virtual categorical sweep for him, and I know Billy was proud, and I was proud for him, and am glad of this opportunity to send along congratulations.

He and I used to be compadre domino-parlor layabouts — the kind that Professor Harold Hill warned of — but the difference was, Billy serendipitously found something life-redeeming in those elegant birds, made something of himself with them, a grand prize winner, while enshadowed, dwarfed, I stayed on as graying resident moon wizard and wonderer of where all the time had gone.

Show chickens never melted my butter, to be honest, and I’m not sure how I got from coop over into sty unless it was some unbidden midnight ratiocination concerning the potential for self-esteem-building that might exist in the prospect of curing my own hams. But that is neither here nor there, I suppose, insofar as our original topic, which, as I recall, was the stimulus-package dole.

One other thought we had was to just give the money directly to one of these political candidates. We had a good laff over that one before routing it over to the When Hell Freezes Over file.