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Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Stetson Mike

You know how you sometimes get a flashback to days of yore and get really embarrassed at how things were? Well, when I was little, growing up in an oppressively Catholic household, every Lent (look it up) we had a collection box in our house for Trocaire, an aid agency who gave money to the black babies. They actually said that. The Black Babies. It was like their unofficial slogan.

It makes me die to think of it now. What were they thinking?

One day, during Lent, my mother had served up my brother and I with some particularly revolting supper. Any attempts to leave it on the plate were met with a stern 'Think of the poor starving black babies in Africa'. After several of these pronouncements my brother, who is much cleverer and sharper than I am, held his still-full plate aloft to my mother and declared 'Send it out to them then, I'm done'.

Her sputtered attempts at explaining the impossibilities of posting a plate of soggy food were lost. We was long gone from that table. Nowadays I am a happy atheist, and I have to constantly rebut people who insist on calling me a missionary. (Except my grandma, who's 104, she can call me whatever the hell she wants. I figure you get to that age, there are no rules.)

The latest tiresome argument was with Stetson Mike, highly abridged version below.

I was standing in the car park outside the supermarket in town, when a very very large man, wearing a very very large Stetson waddled up to me.

'You a missionary?'
'No, a humanitarian aid worker'.
'So you don't work for the Lord?'
'Nope.'
'I do. We breed rabbits. Rabbits are a gift from God, hallelujah. Best eatin', easy to breed.'
'I see.'

Most people in this country can't even keep their chickens properly. I was imagining the havoc of millions of bunnies unleashed on the pitiful crops.

'So what's a humanitarian project like?' said Stetson Mike.
'Well, it's like a missionary, but without the hallelujahs. Works just as well, but without indoctrinating people. And no rabbits.'

Stetson Mike wasn't convinced, but then he didn't convince me either. Stetson Mike woke up in his condo in Florida one day and God spoke to him and told him to bring the rabbits to Zambia. There's someone like that in the White House right now you know. It's a scary scary world.