Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Quick Fix

It's hot. And it's going to get hotter.

This week is going to be the kind of hot that pulp fiction writers open their stories with. The kind of hot that settles in over the late summer darkness, and can only be cut through by a police siren. The kind of hot that simmers tempers, boils away consciences and melts perspective to its warping point.

It's a little bizarre, because as I was percolating that introduction, the part about a siren, all of the sudden I heard a siren come screaming down my street. The ambulance ended up parking right next to my house.

At any rate, it's the kind of hot that makes people crazy, and that means my work week stands to get a little more interesting. But before that happens and I have to get all serious, let's take a moment to celebrate someone who was crazy of his own right before the heat set in.

By now, I'm sure most of Wisconsin has heard of Keith Walendowski. If not, let me assure you this man is worthy of your hero worship. Someday, amid the annals of battle cry history, Walendowski's inspiring words will ring as true as any ever shouted in the heated throes of battle. "Viva la republic!" and "Remember the Alamo!" and "Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!" all pale in comparison to "It's my lawn mower and it's my yard so I can shoot it if I want!"

If you're one of the few who hasn't heard the story yet, I'll try and summarize. There's really not much to it. Walendowski was out in his backyard, like any good hard working Sconnie, trying to get some yard work done. And when his lawn tractor wouldn't start, he did the logical thing.

He went into his house, grabbed his illegal sawed off 12-gauge shotgun and blasted the holy hell out of the belligerent piece of equipment. And from the sound of it ("It's my lawn mower and it's my yard so I can shoot it if I want!"), Walendowski would do it again, too, if given the chance.

Oh, sure, you'll have buzzkills like Walendowski's neighbor, who called the police on account of one little, teensy bit of reckless endangerment that runs contrary to everything an educated sportsman or sportswoman learns about firearm safety. A few nervous nellies will point out that the gun he was plunking away at the Lawn Boy with was really illegal under United States law. And there are those who will point out that Walendowski was thoroughly, groin-grabbingly intoxicated at the time of the whole incident, but they're mostly out-of-staters who don't know that Wisconsinites do their yard work drunk 98% of the time.

But I, for one, recognize Walendowski for the true American hero he is. In spite of safety concerns, thumbing his nose at legal issues, leaving sobriety in the dust of common sense and AT THE RISK OF VOIDING HIS WARRANTY, Walendowski had the courage to deal with his problems like one would deal with a pesky gopher in the garden: with a widely scattered hail of white hot buck shot.

And when some schlub with a badge was impertinent enough to suggest Walendowski was out of line, this Modern Day Richard Lionheart uttered the bold words that will inspire me in my darkest moments for years to come: "It's my lawn mower and it's my yard so I can shoot it if I want!"

These are the kinds of problem-solving skills you can't teach in any school. Sure, blasting the lawnmower did nothing to better his situation, and actually landed him in a significantly worse one. But, damnit, it was loud and fiery and satisfying and, above all, really damn COOL.

This man doesn't belong behind bars. We need to appoint him the head of a task force to address partisan gridlock, an ailing social security system or a deeply troubling growing national debt.


Actually, with a 482-billion dollar deficit forecast for the United States' books this year on account of a "National Stimulus Package" that spurred little more than the sale of Excedrin to thinking people everywhere, maybe we've already appointed a Walendowski to lead our country and we didn't even know it.

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