Here, in Missouri, I live in a fairly liberal enclave within a larger, stupider state. I really should say a stupider state and a half, since southern Illinois is really us, and it’s the stupider half of that state. Even within relatively liberal St. Louis, I live in University City, the most liberal bit. We were the only township in Missouri to have gone for George McGovern. We were the first municipality in the state to allow civil unions, pass a resolution discouraging the police from enforcing marijuana laws, that sort of thing. The state, on the other hand, just passed a law saying it would not enforce Sharia law, should Muslims take over Missouri, something Phoebe and I were certainly worried about.
With all that in mind, Missouri is really quite beautiful. It’s sometimes like living in an enormous national park, one with hoosiers instead of park rangers, admittedly, but lovely nonetheless. The Mississippi is at flood stage, and is, in the true sense of the term, awe inspiring. So were the seven tornadoes we had a week or ten days ago, thank you global warming pick-up driving four miles per gallon hoosier wankers. And then there’s my beloved Cardinals — best record in baseball! And I love the Arch, which I regard as one of the truly magnificent works of public art.
But there are days when even I have to love these hoosiers. I say “these”, because we are talking about half of my family. Back in the 80’s, we went to visit the village where my father was raised. It’s in the foothills of the Ozarks. He runs into this good old boy, and asks him how all is going.
“Oh, Chet,” he says to my dad, “you wouldn’t believe how everything has changed.”
I look around. There are still the three streets, the railroad tracks, the fields. My father is having much the same reaction. So he asks.
“Everything has changed. Everything! We now got us a homosexual and a one-way street.”