“The End is NOT Near”
Over at the VFW last Thursday night, Fernando Smedley drew some unnecessary attention to himself by planting his forehead into a large pile of mashed potatoes, nearly missing the Brussel sprouts and the chicken fried steak sitting on his dinner plate. Fortunately, it wasn’t a heart attack or a piece of meat stuck in his esophagus that caused Smedley to face-plant the potatoes: no, this face dive was the result of him being over-served in the hours before he sat down to eat. Smedley is usually a moderate consumer of alcohol, but not so on this night. Many of the VFW regulars were baffled by seeing Smedley so zonked out, an unfamiliar sight to them. These folks needed to know what in God’s Little Green Acre had caused Smedley to go so deep into the stupefying abyss of alcohol, with him ending up comatose and face down in a pile of mashed potatoes. As the F.B. News guy, who also happens to be a regular at the VFW, dug into the story, he learned that Smedley’s potato- inhaling journey started shortly after his 3 p.m. arrival at the VFW. This was his normal arrival time as it left him an interval for a few brewskis and time to discuss the usual topics of the day with his friends. The VFW crowd is a mix of active working class guys, retired military, and an older bunch who moved here from some Iowa farms twenty-five years ago. This blend of people produces a wide range of opinions on every subject, with politics – local and national – being the dominant topic. About two hours into the pre-dinner “discussion” time the temperature in the place had become unusually and noticeably warmer, with Smedley showing signs of distressing consternation. What had happened on this day to explain Smedley’s totally out-of-character episode? Different on this day, our news man learned, was that Smedley was overcome by some news that he could not handle. Some of the patrons on hand thought that it was the news that the primaries, now completed, had established that the next President of the United States was going to be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. This could have been too much for Smedley, a vehement foe of both. Some thought the recent same sex Bathroom Wars had unhinged him; others saw overwhelming sadness in Smedley’s eyes over the recent Islamic Terrorist attacks here and abroad. It turned out it was none of these major concerns that tipped Smedley over: it was a local issue that got him, no less. The local item that sabotaged Smedley was the announcement that Paul Wellenberger was resigning his job as the Community Club Manager due to some health issues. As a longtime resident of the Bay, Smedley was well acquainted with the many struggles this community had experienced over the years, caused mostly by unfortunate circumstances, but also by uneven leadership. When Paul Wellenberger stepped forward to serve both as City Mayor and the Community Club Manager a few short years ago, things changed for the better, promising a bright future for Fairfield Bay. Learning this very day of the loss of Paul as Manager of the Community Club sent Smedley into an emotional meltdown, ending with the life-threatening drowning in a sea of mashed potatoes. As it often happens, however, life has some very strange and wonderful twists, one of which came into play in this grotesque tale. With Smedley gasping for air, the VFW bartender called for the Fairfield Bay Rescue Squad to save Smedley. Arriving only minutes after receiving the desperate call, the lead EMT rescuer ran to Smedley and with disregard to the mess, he began CPR on him. After several huffs and puffs, a gasping and grateful Smedley raised his head from his potato bed, only to see that his rescuer with his mouth filled with mashed potatoes was none other than his hero, Paul Wellenberger, a faithful member of the Fairfield Bay Rescue Squad. And that is the rest of the story.