Curtis Dahlgren
George Washington goes into a bar and sits down beside me
By Curtis Dahlgren
February 23, 2014

[as originally posted, St. Patrick's Day, 2010 (maybe I'll make this an annual thing for Presidents' Day)]

"HOWDY," said George.

Yes, I'm sure it was him. I've been to Mt. Rushmore you know. Several times, in fact. I knew it was him, but I tried to act real casual and just said: "You're not from around here, are you?" And he says:

"No, but I like it around here." So I say:

"Where are you from?" And he says:

"Virginia." So I said:

"What do you do?" And he said:

"I'm a farmer. Or I was anyway."

"What do you mean?" I say.

"Well," he sez, "I've been out of the country for a few years. Thought I'd see some of the Northwest that I never got to visit." So I say:

"You've never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before, eh? Have you seen our big bridge yet?"

"Yes," he said. "I rode across it the other day. Barely made it across the channel. These great big horseless wagons with foghorns kept spooking my horse."

"I know the feeling," I said, as I finished my green beer. "So what do you think of this part of the country?"

"Well," he said. "It's sure a long way between the inns and pubs on highway 2, and those little hotels seem to have all gone out of business. I stayed one night at an Indian casino. I didn't have any money, but a lady gave me a coin and told me to put it in a machine, and out came enough money for my lodging. I don't know how that worked, but the Indians always said I was lucky!"

"Yes, I know," I said. "But other than that, how's your trip going?" He stared right through me, and said:

"I worry about the mood of the people. They seem to grumble a lot, and who's this guy called Brock?"

"Oh," I say. "You mean Barack Hussein Oboma. He's the President now."

"Oh really?" he said. "Is he a Federalist or a Republican like Tom Jefferson?" The guy sitting on the other side of George almost choked on his green beer. The bartender came over to us and said:

"Now Curt – you know our policy on talking politics in here." And I said:

"Oh sorry, but I think we need to make an exception today. This is George. Buy us a couple of Two-Hearted Ales on me. I think he'll like it better than this green stuff."

"Do you have any ID, sir?" she said.

"About whut?" I said. I laughed and told George that's an old redneck joke.

"What's a redneck? And what's an ID?" he asked.

"Tell you later," I said, as I handed the bartender my credit card for the ale. "I can vouch that George is over 21."

"Very interesting," said George.

"Whut?" I askled.

"Your currency," he said.

"Oh that," I said. "But don't get me started on economics or we'll both get kicked out of here. Yes, times have changed." [sigh]

"That's what I keep hearing," said George, as the bartender popped the top on two bottles of ale.

I just stared at my bottle until the bartender was a safe distance away. Still staring at the ale, I cleared my throat and said, "George – if I may call you George – what would you say if I told you that the Congress is about to pass a law that could get me thrown in jail for refusing to buy health insurance?"

"Those snakes!" he said, trying to hold his voice down. "Sounds like these guys don't believe in Law – not Natural Law anyway."

"Exactly," I said. "They don't believe in parliamentary procedure either anymore. They're talking about ramming this bill through by using 'tricks' to pass a bill that technically doesn't exist, but consists of 2,700 pages."

George didn't say a word. He just took two or three sips of his ale while choosing his next words:

"You wouldn't lie to me, would you?"

"Scout's honor," I said. "I couldn't tell you a lie. But Mr. Brock might fudge the truth a bit."

The people around the corner of the bar laughed nervously and watched for a reaction from the bartender, but she was waiting on customers at a booth. I tried to change the subject now:

"Say, George, what did the termite say when he walked into the bar?"

"Is the bar tender here?" he said with a smile, and then a big belly laugh. "That's an old one!"

Then turning serious and lowering his voice, he said, "Tell me more about politics – I mean the issues."

"Well," I said, thinking out loud. "This year, the government has run up a bar tab that's bigger than the total debts of the previous 43 administrations combined." I guess I used too much emphasis because the bartender informed me that this would be her last warning.

"Sorry madam," said George, as she wiped off the bar around the corner where a couple had just left.

In a very low voice, George says, "What's on the agenda besides this insurance matter?"

"Well," I replied. "If that bill passes by hook or crook, there will be legal challenges, but the President plans on going on to give citizenship to 20 or 30 million illegal aliens."

"Don't tell me the Spaniards are trying to invade again," George replied with a furrowed brow.

"Not exactly," I said. "But they are mostly from Mexico and South America."

"WHAT?" George said, raising his voice and then putting his hand over his mouth.

"That's your third warning, Curt," the bartender said to me.

"Come on," I said. "It's St. Patty's Day." I suggested that we could move to a booth in the corner if she'd get us a couple more ales.

"Okay," she said. "But keep it down."

As we sat down next to the corner window, George said, "Man, did I make a wrong tuirn and end up in French Canada?"

"That's another story," I said. "But France has more free speech than America now."

George shook his head and said, "I'd sure like to talk to the Speaker of the House. What's his name?"

"Nancy Pelosi," I said.

"The Italians are running this country?" he asked.

"I don't know for sure what her nationality is, but this country is definitely being run by lawyers now, not farmers anymore. The lawyers write all the bills and the Congressmen don't even read them."

George clapped one hand over his mouth and looked over his shoulder. Then he leaned forward and looked me right in the eye. "Where's the majority leader of the Senate from now?"

"Las Vegas," I said. "It's a gambling town out west, and I guess that explains why the Feds have such big deficits."

George didn't seem to get the joke. He just stared out the window as we watched a March snowfall begin to blow.

"I have a barn you can put your horse in tonight," I offered. "But what were you thinking about?"

Without taking his eyes off the falling snow, he smiled a half-way smile. "This reminds me of Valley Forge and the words of Tom Paine that we read to the troops just before we crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Eve."

"I know," I said. "But wait'll you see my river. It's right on the state line, too. I moved across the river to get away from high property taxes in Wisconsin."

"WHAT?" George nearly bellowed it out. "Don't tell me that you have to pay taxes on real estate even? Next thing, you'll be telling me that you have to pay taxes on your income!"

"Sometimes two or three times," I said. "Inheritance taxes, capital gains, and everything."

George put both hands to the side of his head and said, "I'm not sure I want to be the Father of this Country anymore." The couple in the next booth got up, left a tip, and quickly left. The bartender handed me the bill for the last two ales, and told us we had better leave too.

"That's okay," I said. "I think I left my engine running."

And then I woke up.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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