Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Village Idiot

Story, Indiana is onto something: every year, they "elect" a village idiot. Whoever does the dumbest thing(s) over the course of the year (e.g. unsuccessfully outrun Farmer Calvin’s bull, pee on an electric fence two days in a row, etc.) receives this dubious honor as bestowed by his/her fellow townsfolk. I’m not sure if this person walks around the next year with a large letter "I" emblazoned upon his/her chest, or if the locals are allowed to fling cow manure in his/her direction at whim, but this is a great idea nonetheless.

Here in Queen Creek, AZ, we need such a "title" if not for the sheer fact the specter of being named the "village idiot" would discourage asinine behavior, it would at least help weed out those who choose not to exercise their innate common sense from the rest of us. You can’t tell me the business community wouldn’t embrace this: "Well let me see here, sir, we shouldn’t have any problem approving your loan for a . . . Pacer? Wait a minute, you were the ‘village idiot’ last year, weren’t you? Of course we’re not going to approve such a loan because if we did, our Branch Manager would be named the idiot this year."

Given the fact Queen Creek is actively seeking more businesses to move to this little corner of the Garden of Eden, I thought the "village idiot" program would be the perfect cornerstone for the Chamber of Commerce’s marketing initiative: "Queen Creek, AZ: We’ve Pre-Screened the Idiots for You." So, I called the Chamber (that sounds sort of ominous, doesn’t it) and spoke with Francine Salisbury. By the sound of her voice, Francine had either dated Methuselah in her teen years or she’s a twenty-five year old woman who smokes three cartons a day. Grrrrr.

I brought her up to speed on my idea and asked if I could schedule a meeting with the folks down at the old COC – that’s insider jargon, of course, for Chamber of Commerce. While she didn’t cotton to the idea as a marketing plan, she did say she had an uncle who once tried to marry a mountain goat. I asked her if she mentioned this because she felt her uncle would qualify for the title of "village idiot." While clearing her throat of phlegm, she said, "No. I just think of old Uncle Jasper at odd times. Some say it was a ruse for the IRS, but it was true love. You should have seen the way Clementine would look at Jasper." Just imagine.

Francine prattled on some more about a boy she knew in third grade who ate dried cow patties without any water to wash them down. "Now that boy was the village idiot, in my opinion. Doing that nonsense without any water. This is Arizona for heaven’s sake." Before I got myself caught up in a "Twilight Zone" episode trying to explain to Francine that water probably wasn’t the crux of the problem, I politely thanked her for the time and got off the phone. Imagine what people would say about me had I stayed on the phone.

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