Let's All Go Crazy!
by Ellis Parker Butler
About this time of the year several million earnest voters decide that it is necessary to turn every rascal out of the city hall and inaugurate Reform so that there will be no more troubles in the world for anyone forever more. I am quite willing that rascals should be thrown out of every city hall in the world every time there is an election, but it has now become mighty difficult for anyone to get me excited about it. I refuse to believe that perfection is possible. I refuse to get red in the face and hot under the collar and otherwise "het" up because the seat of one pair of pants is going to polish the official chair instead of another pair of pants. Even if someone told me a petticoat was going to do the polishing after this, I would not throw a fit in my enthusiasm.
As nearly as I have been able to understand local politics the possibilities fall into three lines:
1. If the reform ticket is elected we will have higher taxes.
2. If the present administration is re-elected we will have higher taxes.
3. If nobody is elected we will have higher taxes.
I don't throw off this dictum loosely; it is the result of years of deep study and tax bills. As far as I have been able to observe results the only important outcome of changes of local administration is that sometimes the tax bills are printed on white paper and sometimes on blue paper. This may be important but it does not affect my soul-life to any great extent. It does not whoop up my enthusiasm. Even should I be told that next year my tax bill will be printed on lavender paper with a pink border I would not die of apoplectic joy.
I do wish some candidate would come right out flat-footed and say: "Citizens, conditions are bad but they will probably be worse if I am elected. I have had no experience in governing whatever. Taxes will probably go up and you will get less service for what you are taxed. Frankly, the reason I want to be elected is that the office pays $5,000 a year and I want the money. Don't look for perfection if I am elected; there is no perfection. If you want perfection go crazy and imagine you are in heaven."
It reminds me of the case of Henry J. Fliggis, of my town. The wife of Henry J. Fliggis has a flower garden and on her birthday he bought her a birdbath to set in the garden. As soon as the birdbath arrived and was set and filled with water the birds came and bathed in it. As soon as the birds came and bathed the cat of Mrs. Claggis, next door, came over to eat the birds.
It was entirely right for Mrs. Fliggis to want a birdbath, and entirely proper for the birds to want a bath, and entirely proper for the cat to want to eat a bird. Nevertheless it annoyed Mr. Fliggis to have Mrs. Claggis's cat come over and lurk in the petunias and marigolds on its plump tummy. It annoyed the birds. They deserted the birdbath and left the yard and remained unbathed absentees.
It was entirely legal and right for Mrs. Fliggis to have a birdbath and entirely legal and right for Mrs. Claggis to have a cat. It would have been cruel in Mrs. Claggis to keep her cat eternally cooped up in the house. It was cruel for the cat to sit in the zinnias by the birdbath and wait for edible songsters. Mr. Fliggis stewed in his own brainpan and tried to think what he could do to win perfection out of the complex plot that confronted him. There were various things he might do:
1. He might shoot the cat, but that was against the law and would not be perfection.
2. He might have shot the birds, but that would have made Mrs. Fliggis weep, and that would not have been perfection.
3. He might have had Mrs. Claggis arrested for allowing her cat to trespass on his property, but Mrs. Claggis was a lovely person and he did not want to hurt her feelings and have a neighborhood row, for that would not have been perfection.
4. He might have shot Mrs. Fliggis, for then she would not care whether she had a bird bath or not, but Mr. Fliggis would have been short one (1) wife, and that would not have been perfection.
5. He might have shot Mrs. Claggis, for then she would not have cared whether or not she had a cat, but that would have been murder, and murder is not perfection.
6. He might have written to the newspapers, but that would not have cured the cat's appetite for birds, and nothing would have been done, and doing nothing is not perfection.
7. He might have convinced Mrs. Claggis that she ought to keep her cat indoors by day, but that would have been hard on the cat and would not have been perfection.
8. He might have sold his property and moved to Russia, but that would not have been perfection.
There was but one way in which he saw he could find the perfect solution of his trouble with the cat, the birdbath and the birds. This was to imagine he was a squirrel and climb a tree and shoot himself. So he did it.
The elections, with every candidate promising perfection, are now upon us. Let's all climb trees. Let's go crazy.
I don't know what else a sane man can do unless, perhaps, he admits that perfection is not possible in this vale of weeps, and unbuttons his shirt cuff and laughs in his sleeve.
Excuse me a minute while I unbutton my cuff.