Into the Dandelion’s Den

A friend recently sent me a link to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, owing to the fact that a.) it was about my home town, and b.) it involved pot. Obviously I suspected from the outset, without having even read the article, that this was something that was going to be of vital importance to me, more than likely falling under the heading of, “See, this is why I live here rather than there.”

As occasionally happens, I was absolutely right.

Somehow, and I will never be able to work out quite why, the fact that some yo-yo found a three-foot-tall marijuana plant growing in one of the decorative planters in downtown LaPorte, Indiana — “downtown” being a somewhat relative term, since the once-booming and now rather tumbleweed-infested downtown area consists of some military surplus shops, a few banks, and (Jeebus only knows why) a piano store that’s somehow managed to keep itself in business for years — warranted a nationally reported news story. And yet, there it was, splattered all over the AP wire:

Indiana Town Finds Pot In Downtown Planter

My initial thought: Northern Indiana essentially being the ditch weed capital of the Midwest, this is basically like blaring a headline like “Country Music Heard At NASCAR Race” or “Staten Island Resident Finds Portion of Canoli in Area Trash Can.”

Then I read the story. Essentially, somebody walking along in downtown LaPorte saw a pot plant growing out of a decorative planter and, in typical loopy-ass Elmer fashion, immediately called the police. The cops showed up, pulled out the plant, and took it back to the station house to (ahem!) “dispose of it.”

So far, it sounds lame and pointless, hardly a newsworthy event. There were no shots fired, no flags were burned, and Ricky Williams wasn’t even anywhere in the tri-state area at the time. And then, I came to the hidden nugget of pure gold that had to have been the reason this story got picked up by the AP:

The planters are maintained by the city’s Business Improvement District, a group of local business owners who for years have organized volunteers to weed each of the 130-plus planters.

Dave Sanderson, president of the Business Improvement District, suspected the marijuana was planted as a joke and said that the volunteers were unlikely to have noticed it.

“I wouldn’t know a marijuana plant from a dandelion,” he said. “I’m not sure if they would either.”

Eureka! The mother lode! As George Hearst would say in virtually any given episode of Deadwood this season, “The color has been secured.”

This is the sort of thing that periodically comes out of my beloved hometown and invariably makes me marvel at the fact that I ever even learned to tie my own goddamned shoes, growing up in a burg like that. A dandelion? A dande-fucking-lion? Could this Sanderson fellow come much closer to just hanging a neon sign around his neck that says “I’m A Dumbshit Hayseed”? For chrissakes, you maybe say that to one of your buddies at the water cooler, but you sure as shit don’t go on record with it to a reporter!

Can’t tell a pot plant from a dandelion? Well, Mr. Sanderson, here are a few minor li’l clues for you. A dandelion isn’t generally three feet tall, it usually has a little yellow flower or a fluffy white puffball on it, and, uh, oh yeah, it doesn’t get you baked out of your fucking gourd.

So, are we to believe that this guy is actually so utterly dim as to possibly, in a childlike moment, rub a big, sticky marijuana bud under his buddy’s chin to “see if he likes butter,” or doth he, mayhap, protest too much? Could anyone actually be that oblivious?

Well, in a word, yes.

For example, Northwest Airlines recently announced their intention to lay off a number of employees in Montana, North Dakota, and Texas. Along with the pink slips and the “We wish you well in your future endeavors” brush-off letter, Northwest was thoughtful enough to also include a sheet of helpful tips called “101 Ways to Save Money,” chock full of mind bogglingly useful ideas that any self-respecting person might be more than happy to learn about and take advantage of — such as:

“46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”

Let me bring that one around for a second pass, shall I?

“46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”

I don’t think I’ve ever before encountered a human resources department this ballsy. I’ve seen a major publisher avoid an age-discrimination lawsuit by purposely overloading the employee in question with work that he could not possibly complete (so as to provide an excuse for cutting him loose), but never in my life have I heard of a company that was willing to advise its soon-to-be-ex employees to go dumpster-diving to make ends meet.

The thing is, that’s only one tip out of a total of 101. It may be the most outrageous of the bunch, but it is still in pretty good company. Some of ol’ No. 46’s able lieutenants include:

“21. Make your own babyfood [sic].”

Yeah, I know baby food is way overpriced, but they’re seriously suggesting that Joe and Jane McElmer go into the baby food making biz themselves? Can you imagine the nutritional nightmare that would be, at least in a lot of cases? “Yeah, well Hester Lou here just crushes up a bunch of her Doritos and mixes ’em with some bacon grease from the jar on yon stove. Pizza Delivery Boy Jr. seems to like it just fine.”

“36. But [sic] no-frills vitamins.”

I assume this means buy no-frills vitamins. I almost kinda hope that all these typos are on the actual sheet the airline’s giving out and not just a mistake in the online transcription. Either way, what in precisely the fuck is a “no-frills vitamin”? Isn’t that an orange? Yeah, okay, I’ll forego the hoity-toity vitamins with the essence of bison candy-coating and the free vacation to Aruba attached, and just go with these dull, boring, no-frills “essential nutrients” things.

“98. Cut the kids [sic] hair yourself.”

Yeah, fine, wonderful. Put a bowl over your son’s head and trace around it with your granny’s old pinking shears. It’ll make him oh-so-popular at school, and it’s an effective way to transfer your own financial problems to the next generation, as what you save in barber fees will magically reappear down the road as your kids’ (note the proper use of the apostrophe, Northwest!) psychoanalysis fees. It’s a win-win if I ever saw one.

“84. Hand wash instead of dry cleaning.”

Absolutely, because there’s nothing better for a business suit than being crammed into the bathroom sink to soak for an hour or so like a pair of old nylons, then being hung out on the line to dry. Any fine men’s wear store will recommend you do the same thing. Why, I remember working in my own father’s clothing store during the summer when I was a kid, and many is the time he’d sell a nice three-piecer to some local gentleman with the advice, “You know what’s good for this suit? A quarter cup of Biz and a nice soak in the sink.”

“75. Inspect clothing carefully before purchasing it.”

Why? To see if somebody maybe stuck a bonus $20 in the pocket? Seriously, how is this a money-saving tip? Don’t you always look over clothes before you buy ’em to make sure they haven’t been rubbed down with cat poo or something? And if you get them home and there’s something wrong with them, you take them back. Where’s the penny-pinching benefit here? I mean, this is about as financially useful as saying, “Be sure to remember not to eat food at a restaurant if it’s got things crawling in it.” That’s not financial advice; that’s just impugning somebody’s capacity for common sense. And while statistically speaking, it’s obvious that common sense is the Great White Buffalo of our culture, it’s bad form to go reminding your idiot soon-to-be-ex employees of that in a helpful pamphlet that encourages things like dumpster diving. Right?

Ah, but there is hope. A short blurb of a story on Reuters recently made the startling announcement to the world that:

A German scientist has been testing an “anti-stupidity” pill with encouraging results on mice and fruit flies, Bild newspaper reported Saturday.

It said Hans-Hilger Ropers, director at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, has tested a pill thwarting hyperactivity in certain brain nerve cells, helping stabilize short-term memory and improve attentiveness.

“With mice and fruit flies we were able to eliminate the loss of short-term memory,” Ropers, 62, is quoted saying in the German newspaper, which has dubbed it the “world’s first anti-stupidity pill.”

Thank Jeebus that the Krauts finally managed to solve the worldwide problem of not fully attentive fruit flies and meeces out there. How we lasted this long with these critters forgetting their car keys and leaving the iron on at home when they go out is beyond me.

(But the whole thing does raise the nagging question, obviously, of how one actually goes about measuring the short-term memory of a fruit fly in the first place. I reckon it must have something to do with the number of dandelions they flit around...)

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