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Stanley Cogismith was on the campaign trail. He wanted to be elected governor of Pennsylvania. But he was up against a well-loved incumbent, and he had to fight hard. At a gathering of The Loyal Order of the Skinny Cows in Phoenixville, he gave his latest, most souped-up speech. “Friends, if I am elected, there will be changes in Pennsylvania,” he said purposefully and solemnly, and then paused for emphasis. “Pregnant women who are showing will, by law, be given the option to move to the front of any line at any state facility.” The skinny cows cheered this promised edict. “Furthermore,” said Cogismith, “women carrying a child in their arms or on their backs or in papoose arrangements on their chests will be allowed to go to the front of the line in any state facility. But only after the showing women, and the woman carrying the larger child goes before the woman carrying the smaller child. And if it’s too close to call then a bystander will flip a coin to see who goes first.” There was a great belch of applause from the members of the Loyal Order of Skinny Cows Lodge 217. Cogismith was rolling now, and he waited for the applause to taper off, smiling with assurance and great benevolence, having promised something he had no possible way to know he could ever fulfill, since it depended on the hearts and attitudes of so many State Employees. Many of these are very nice people, but some are condescending or gruff or worse, and who can blame them for having these faults when they have to deal with an endless stream of people at, let’s say, the Bureau of Pissing Dogs? People constantly all day coming in to fill out a form and ramp and rake about someone’s dog peeing on their flowers?

But Cogismith was undaunted by such things. To get elected you had to make ridiculous promises. He continued in a lighter, less solemn, but firm and assertive tone, “For this will be a new era in Pennsylvania, an era of the best in human relations, humane intentions, and furthermore there will be a law against overhead light fixtures that have an annoying buzz!” To this the Skinny Cows rose from their seats and cheered Cogismith and rang their cowbells.

His greatest admirers called him Cogismith the Real.

That night, at the Burger King across the street from the Lodge of the Loyal Order of Skinny Cows, some laughing adolescents changed the sign from Home of the Whopper to Home of the Hopper. Now some people don’t know this, but “hopper” is another name for the toilet. And they thought it was pretty cool to change that sign, and they ran laughing into the night.

And speaking of nights, it was just the other night when, in the teeth of a roaring rainstorm, I went outside to get the clothes out of the dryer. Why was I going outside to get the clothes out of the dryer? It doesn’t make any sense! But in this case it does, because the dryer is in the basement of this building and to get in the basement you have to go through the door from the outside. And the wind was blowing hard and the rain was coming down in sheets. I was almost to the basement door when I heard something hit my truck behind me. Oh no! A limb! A limb had come down. I was almost afraid to turn around. But curiosity, that old wonderful condition, overcame any fear of what I might see that would upset me (like a big limb that had damaged my truck) and I saw a mass of leaves and sticks on the hood of the truck. Just as I saw this I noticed something moving past me on the ground. I looked down and saw a wet bedraggled squirrel, walking slowly and drunkenly in the pouring rain. Now when do you ever see a squirrel walk like that? And when does a squirrel, outside of the city, walk right by a person? The answer flashed in. That squirrel’s nest had fallen on my truck!

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