Well, roll out the bearskin carpet and get out the washable plates.

Back in my day, we didn’t pat each other on the back simply for doing our civic duty. Everyone voted, and we walked uphill through musket fire just to get to the polls. I still have shrapnel in my neck from the Town Crier of election of 86’. Still worth it, though, to see the first rooster sworn in as the new Town Crier. That election went on for three days, on account of all the musket fire. But if you asked anyone in town, they’d have told you it was worth it. The chicken was always running twenty minutes behind.

When I was a kid, we couldn’t look up candidates on the internet. In fact, we didn’t even know who the candidates were, only that they all had gout. We used to just vote on whoever had least serious case of gout. That’s how Uncle Henry almost became Mayor in ’72. He wasn’t really my uncle. That was just a childhood nickname that stuck. Never did get to be mayor, though. Turned out he had a bad case of shrub pox that came on right before election day.

When there was no musket fire to run past, there were live hornets’ nests we had to step over. We weren’t allowed to move hornets’ nests when I was a kid, on account of the hornet being the official town bird.

We usually got a few stings on the way to the polls, which were actual metal poles. We voted by knocking on designated steel poles with our bare knuckles. If your knuckles bled after two knocks, your vote went to the incumbent. If they bled before, the vote went to the city slicker.

City slickers were always moving in from the hills, looking to get elected to one of our coveted political offices to try and “fix things”.

Close up the old town well,” they’d say, “the one by the septic field,” they’d say, “and dig a new, fancy well, nowhere near a field of manure.” Fancy-pants city slickers and their manure-free water!

And we didn’t get some hifalutin sticker for voting back then, either! Stickers were what grew on the vine keeping us out of Farmer Randy’s stinkberry patch. What we got after we voted was a good celebratory kick in the stomach by the town donkey, Legs Barnabus. I’ll always remember my first donkey kick at the tender ago of 15, a week after my wedding. Proudest day of my life, getting kicked by that donkey. Can’t remember who I voted for, for the life of me, but Legs Barnabus broke three of my ribs that afternoon.

That, my friend, is patriotism. That is serving your country, the way the four fathers intended. The four fathers weren’t really anyone’s father, of course, but were the four town priests we needed on account of having to christen every egg laid by the previous town crier.

Boy, did that rooster sure make things easier. Nowadays, we only need three fathers.