Guest column: A marriage proposal from the real America

Editor’s note: The following guest blog offers a satirical take, somewhat indirectly, on the North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, or Amendment One. The “editor” so named is not the Mountain Xpress, nor any other existing media outlet. All of the names used are fictional. The names of well-known media and political personalities — including the New York Times and the Pulitzer Prize committee — are used for satirical purposes.

Dear Editor,

As a severely conservative gentleman, I would like to express my position on same-sex marriage before the referendum here in North Carolina. Face reality, people: The experiment with man-woman monopoly has failed. Miserably. Check the record. Divorce rates are soaring. The polyamorous caper and cavort. On satin sheets sometimes! Topless bars go completely ooo-lá-lá while the cops turn a blind eye. Or so they say. And don’t get me started on Newt Gingrich! The moral fabric of our country is crumbling into ashes. Who can deny it?

What we need is a fresh infusion of stable marital exemplars for our young people, and, boy, do we need it now! But, sad to say, there just aren’t enough straight folks willing to do their part anymore. Oh, we can just live together, they say. God will never find out, they say. Enough!

This is where I think gays can help. It might take some getting used to at first, but imagine: A few years from now when same-sex matrimony is legal everywhere, the remaining straight couples will look around, see all those wonderful person-person marriages, toss the rice at all those beautiful person-person ceremonies, and maybe look longingly into each others’ eyes and say: “Hmmm. Maybe we should try that marriage whatever.” Opposite-sex marriage will be saved! The free market works its magic! Good, old-fashioned competition.

Now, hold on, hold on. I know what you’re going to say. What about all the people whose minds remain enslaved to the anti-gay persuasion? What about the torment they will go through if they know same-sex unions are going on? Fair point. Again, I know it’s not going to be easy, but we’ve got to put aside our natural aversion and begin thinking in therapeutic terms. They’re human beings, too, you know. Besides, it could be part genetic, nobody knows for sure, so you can’t blame them totally. The important thing is to get them out of the environment where all that peer pressure only reinforces the pathology. I’m sure with proper treatment, many, if not most, can sober up, go back out into the world in a clean suit, and start making amends to all the people they have hurt. Tough love, the only way.

But here’s the best part: With the destruction of civilization as we know it averted, we can concentrate on all the other challenges we face ― like abolishing taxes on our job-creators, instituting prayer-based climate control and making them sing “The Star Spangled Banner” correctly at the Super Bowl. Who knows? Someday, we may even catch up with Canada or (dare I dream?) those snooty Swedes. When you think about it rationally, fellow conservatives, is there any serious alternative?

Your friend,
Arvol Candler
Bethel Ridge, North Carolina

P.S. I’m not gay, no matter what Agnes Brumby says. I just don’t like her apple pie.

Dear Editor,

I see you still haven’t printed my letter. Fine. You are very busy and you have but so much space. I understand. You could have said something, though. Run out of stamps? Not everyone has the Worldwide Internet, and some of your readers have to drive clear to Weaverville to check the new issues in the library. And, besides, who would want to hear the voice of an ordinary American on a trivial topic like marriage, anyway? Oh, no, not with Peru standing on the brink of a trade imbalance! I bet they balanced it back before anybody finished reading that article. (I apologize if that last part sounded sarcastic. Agnes Brumby thinks she can make peach cobbler now, and everything is getting a little on my nerves.)

The reason I’m writing again is this: I thought of a new way to win over our fellow Tea Party Americans on this whole gay-marriage thing. Put it in their language, so to speak. It worked with my German shepherd once when she wouldn’t do a thing I said, and instead of using people words I started pointing to things and saying “woof” and “woof-woof” and “woof-woof-woof,” and now she’ll chase a stick and bring it back, if she doesn’t bite it out of your hand first. I put our new argument in a Bible-type story to kind of “energize” the fundamentalist wing. See what you think.

In that day, the Lord blessed our land with two beautiful sets of twins. One was named Adam and Zina. The other was Agnes and Zola. And He loved all His children the same, and they were all His delight, and they were all His joy. Then not much happened for a while and everybody got older and, sooner or later, the ways of the world since Eden kicked in like they do. Adam promised to marry Agnes, and, although there were plenty of rumors around town, most people were relieved to hear she had finally landed any man. Zina wanted to marry Zola, but, as you might have guessed by now, they were lesbians. And Mr. Cumberford, who ran the justice of the peace out of the back of his filling station, which I don’t think is even legal, but that’s another story, did not like lesbians. Or gays, either. Not one little bit. After rolling his eyes, he said Adam could marry Agnes, but Zena could not marry Zola.

Well sir, that might have been the end of it, except for one day the Lord (taking the form of His Heavenly Court) thundered that every person has a right to marry anyone he wants to. It’s private business, it doesn’t matter what color you are, and everyone can just butt out! (By the way, “he” also meant “she.” That’s how they talked in Bible times.) And then nothing much happened again for a long time and one day the Lord returned and thundered that, another thing, from now on what people do with their privates is private, too. Whether they’re married or not! Chill, okay? (Don’t ask me why He couldn’t just thunder it all out the first time. He has His ways.)

And when the Lord saw what Mr. Cumberford had done, He gathered all the people on the Courthouse lawn – the one where they have the Mary and Joseph play every Christmas; there’s a real donkey and everything, no lie, y’all should come down and see it next year – and the Lord demanded to know why Zena, His beloved daughter, the daughter He loved, could not marry Zola, of whom He was also fond, despite the way she cursed like a longshoreman with a backache. And when no one answered and everyone just kind of looked at their feet, the Lord became angry. He became very angry. He was about to blow a blood vessel, He was so angry. And the Lord said to all the people: If any would deny the least of My children the marriage blessing, let him call forth a compelling reason and let him testify in such wise that his words shall be crooked neither left nor right, neither over-inclusive nor under-inclusive. (I know it’s hard to follow, but again, that’s how they talked in Bible times.) And all who heard trembled for they knew in their hearts they had sinned. Now, if you were Mr. Cumberford, what would you say to the Lord? Or would you just cover your mouth like Job last week?
See, that’s the way with Bible stories. They don’t have to be totally true and you never just come flat out at the end and give the answer. It always has to be left a question, so you have something to talk about when you’re out on the front lawn and all there is to do is drink that watered-down punch and pretend to eat the brownies Agnes Brumby brought.

OK, so go ahead and fix up the spelling and whatever else you need to do, but let’s get the word out this time, shall we? People are counting on us.

Your friend,
Arvol Candler

Dear Editor,

In case you’re wondering, that annoying sound is my foot tapping. What gives? I feel compelled to warn you that Mrs. Clayton at the library is threatening to cancel your publication because she’s tired of me asking her to check if there are any new issues missing. Nonetheless, I’m trying to use this delay time constructively, so here’s another story idea I thought of. It’s not Bible per se, more like a fable, but I think it still gets the point across:

The Clods and the Cools lived on an island, and, for as long as anyone could remember, there were always a lot more Clods than Cools, and, for as long as anyone could remember, the houses of the Clods received official blessing while Cool houses did not. One day, the Cools asked: Why do you treat us so?
You are not mistreated, the Big Clod said. Cool houses do not fall within the traditional definition of blessed houses.

But why?

Because many Clods build houses with bricks. Society needs brick houses.

But some Cools build brick houses, too. And some Clods build houses without bricks.

Cools can’t make bricks.

We can get all the bricks we need. And many people have fine houses without any bricks in them at all.

Still, you are not Clods.

Would it help if we acted more like Clods?

No! You have to be a total Clod. Get some therapy and don’t come back until you are certifiable.

I made it short so people could read it on the subway, if that’s how they get to work. For home delivery, maybe we could describe the island more at the beginning, to pad it out and get the mood right, and then put in some more at the end to explain how it all ties in.

Your friend,
Arvol Candler

P.S. I read my new story to my neighbor, Harlan Blannerhassett, to kind of sound out the reaction of the average man. He claimed “Clods” was very offensive, and I said I could change it to “Crackheads,” and now we aren’t speaking. I think city people are more used to banter like that, but I defer to your judgment

Dear Editor,

I realize this is a little late, but thanks so much! I don’t know how much good we did, but one thing’s for sure: things have really been buzzing for me! Well, for a while, they were. They’re quieted down now. I’ll get to that in a second.

It wasn’t on account of your printing the letter, though. Apparently, hardly anyone reads that section. No, what happened was it went virus on the Worldwide Internet! My cousin, Hiram, told me about it. First, they put parts of it on the Dr. P.Z. Myers blog, then it was on the Huffington one, then Yahoo picked it up, and then a whole bunch more piled on, and I guess that’s why the Bill O’Reilly people invited me to be on The Bill O’Reilly Show. (The Glenn Beck people called my nephew, but I wouldn’t let him give out my phone number. I’m sorry, I know a lot of people like him, but I just don’t trust that man.)

I was supposed to be the last one on, and they make you wait forever in this little room where all they have for you to do is watch his own show. That’s the only channel you can watch while you wait, his own show. What an ego! But still, I was on TV.

My part started out OK, although those lights make you dizzy and he made a remark about being on drugs that I didn’t quite catch. Then he began bellowing about “elitist-this” and “turncoat-that,” and I told him if he waved his finger at me one more time, I would teach my dog a few “woofs” that would take care of that little habit, and all the time this whiny black guy in a red bow tie kept trying to butt in (I don’t know why he was even there; it was supposed to be my turn), and pretty soon it was a commercial. I’m not sure anyone in TV Land could even follow what was going on.

A couple hours later, I was on the Rachel Maddow one, but by then I had time to shave and get a sandwich at the hotel, so everyone says I did a lot better. Plus, she was much nicer and at least she was willing to hear me out. But here’s the thing: When they talk all fast and whirr you around like that, it all starts to be like a wind tunnel and it gets hard to keep your balance. By the end, I didn’t even know which side I was supposed to be on. The life of an expert pundit is not for me, I can tell you that!

Well, when I got back to Bethel Ridge, I didn’t know what to expect, either. People here are pretty much live and let live, but they don’t always like it when you hold yourself out for public comment, even though that wasn’t what I was trying to do. It just kind of happened. But glad to say, there was nothing to fear.
You see, while I was in New York, they starting selling “legal moonshine” in North Carolina. I’m not kidding. Legal moonshine! Talk about your ox and moron! Everyone drove down to Weaverville to get a bottle, and I was just in time because there were only a few of the first batch left, so it was a good thing I didn’t go on any more of those TV shows. Now, I don’t know if people up your way know what corn likker is like, but take my word for it, there’s a reason why you could go all winter here without burning but four logs. Woof!

Well, after that, everybody was mellow as a rat snake on your driveway in August, and there was all this talk how people were driving from as far as Atlanta and Knoxville to see what this Bethel Ridge place looked like, and there were TV trucks and satellites and cords all over Main Street, and the Courthouse was on the national TV twice, and everyone was saying how great it was for business! And then I got a call from Pastor Winchell, and he said not to worry about coming back to church, he knew how to smooth things over, and the next Sunday he did a really good sermon where mostly he just cracked jokes, and everybody laughed, and he ended by saying that Jesus was all about love, anyway, or he said something like that, I was daydreaming a little by then, and there was Agnes Brumby in the second-row pew where she always sits, and afterwards I went up to apologize for using her name without permission (well, for more than that, really), and her eyes lit up and she said, “hell, no!” That write-up was the best thing that ever happened because now when she walked down the street she was like the biggest celebrity in the world, and she was all the talk, and she’d been asked out on three dates already, and I could see she had been to Twiggs Beauty Salon because her hair was bobbed real short like Rachel Maddow, except she had this little swirl in front that, in my opinion, is even cuter than Rachel Maddow. Later that night she came by the house with a rhubarb pie, and, you know, once you scrape off the crust, it’s not that bad. Once again, thanks for everything!

Your friend,


Dear Pulitzer Prize Committee,

I am writing to express my deepest appreciation for the “Distinguished Commentary Award” that I am informed you will be giving to me next month. Although I would have preferred to win in a category I ever heard of, it is still quite an honor. One suggestion: You might consider changing the name next time to “Best Commentary” or “Hottest Commentary” or something like that. For a little more pep, I mean. “Distinguished” sounds so stuffy, and I’m not like that at all in real life, and people might confuse me with the guy who won for exposing the Peru trade imbalance.

One other matter, if I might, concerning procedure: Is the ceremony suit-and-tie or is sport coat OK? The reason I ask is I’ve put on a little weight lately, and, well, I’ll just come out and say it, the suit pants don’t fit anymore and sometimes the top button pops off. I don’t want to get up there on stage and embarrass everybody, especially with the new Mrs. Candler in the audience! I know a great tailor in Boone, but he’s in demand, so I’ll need some lead time.

Again, thank you so much for this high honor of which I am so undeserving, because all I really did was write that one little piece, and then dozens and dozens after that, and even though I have already been paid a ton of money for them, a little more never hurts.

Your friend,

Arvol Candler
Bethel Ridge, North Carolina

P.S. Who keeps the trophy, me or the New York Times? If it’s all the same, you might as well give it to them for the time being. They have a very nice glass case that’s right in the front where people walk in. If somebody important sees mine there, he might say: “Hmmm. Maybe we could hire him to do write-ups for us, too.” Like I said, it’s not that I need the money, but who’s going to see it in my shed? Think about it, anyway. No need to decide today.


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