It was Thanksgiving in Mud Lick, Alabama, and Sheriff Roy Templeton was getting uneasy. Arlene was setting odd place cards at the dining room table. Sheriff Roy’s read as follows:
ROY TEMPLETON. PRONOUNS HE/HIM/HIS
“Arlene, what in the name of Bear Bryant are these wastes of card stock doing at my damn dinner table?” the Sheriff asked.
“It was your niece Cindy’s idea, honey. She says it respects peoples’ dignity to do stuff like this, and we don’t want Roy Junior thinking his family’s disrespectful, do we?”
CINDY, Roy thought to himself in horror. His brother, per the Sheriff’s wishes, would send one family member for Thanksgiving Dinner. This year, Barney just happened to send Roy’s niece Cindy, who didn’t even have the good sense to go to Alabama for college. She was in her sophomore year at some trash football school called “Yale,” wherever that was.
Heaven only knew what kind of thoughts a place like that could put into an impressionable girl like Cindy.
Right around six, Cindy bubbled into the house with a smile. She wore a deep crimson sweater and respectable jeans, and managed to bring a sweet potato pie for the spread. At least Barney’s family is raising their kids right, Roy thought.
Then Cindy opened her mouth after the family sat down, and Sheriff Roy’s mood went straight to the toilet.
“Are you paying attention to the debates for President, Uncle Roy?” Cindy asked.
“Debates ain’t football. It’s just a bunch of windbags mouthing off about how much they hate our President. I’d rather watch wrestling instead. That way I’d at least get to see some fighting after the talking.”
It would be a bit longer before Cindy opened her mouth next. This time, it would be during a discussion over the rising costs of Roy Junior’s therapy bills.
“That Liz Warren says we can have Medicare For All, and then once we get it, Roy Junior’s therapy bills shouldn’t be that bad. It’ll pay for itself in the way we’re happier and more productive!”
“Cindy, I appreciate you’re learning all kinds of new stuff up north, but that Yankee school you’re attending’s putting some serious stupid in your head. First off, no one worth their salt believes a damn word that woman says.”
“I don’t know, Uncle Roy, she seems like she’s got some good ideas.”
“Which was the better of her ideas, her saying she was Native American or her taking a DNA test to find out she’s whiter than the china in your Nana’s cupboard?”
“Uncle Roy, you’ve been watching too much Fox News again. Besides, I was talking about health care, not genealogy!”
“Cindy, who’s going to pay for this ridiculous thing you call ‘Medicare for all?’ I’m not paying for it. We get great insurance through the Benevolence Union.”
“Well, Ms. Warren says private insurance would go away and everybody would get new Government insurance paid for with tax money.”
“Cindy, what the hell are they actually teaching you at that Yankee school? Eliminating private health insurance takes out countless American jobs. Going to a single payer system would almost certainly eliminate the incentive for medical innovation in America, especially when the people in charge are the government. You want the government having a say in your health care? I work for the government, and they make my regular job hard enough as is!”
“Ugh,” Cindy snarled with disgust.
“I’ll get the apple pie,” Arlene said, rising from the table. “Roy Junior, come help your mother.”
The boy happily complied.
Once Ms. Templeton and her son left the room, Cindy went all in on Sheriff Roy.
“Uncle Roy, I can’t believe you and the rest of people your age are so hell-bent on keeping with these silly free market, capitalist ideas that are turning our country bankrupt and sending our climate into a hellhole that will never recover! Ms. Warren and Bernie Sanders have all these great ideas, and if Boomers like you would try something different like…”
“Don’t you say that word in my house, Cindy.”
“Socialism! There! I said it!”
“Cindy here’s the end of the night and the end of your lesson, child.” Sheriff Roy said tenderly. “People’ve tried that S word I asked you not to say in my house for generations. It never works. Sure, it sounds good, but at the end of the day all you get is breadlines and killing the neighbor’s dog for a day’s meal. Capitalism may not be perfect, but it’s given us a thriving nation, the innovation of free markets, and the ability to say and do as we please.”
“All this stuff they’re throwing in your head at Yale is just nonsense blathering coming from people who get paid to brainwash you kids. They’ve never lived in the world, never had a real job. They teach. My daddy always said, ‘Those who can’t, teach,’ and he was right. ‘Cept for my shop teacher, but they don’t have those these days. Best you focus your studies on stuff that will help you in real life, like that STEM stuff Arlene tells me women don’t get enough of in school.”
Cindy rose from the table, staring at Sheriff Roy with a thousand-yard stare. Mustering all the strength her tiny frame could manage, Cindy hurled the one insult she knew would sting the good Sheriff: “Ok Boomer.” With that, Cindy Thomas quickly collected her belongings and left the Templeton home just as Arlene came back with her famous apple pie.
“Will Cindy be back, Roy?” Arlene asked.
“Probably not. We ain’t exactly ‘woke’ folks in Mud Lick, though we try our best to be respectful. Cindy’s just gotten too much Yankee education in her to stay polite.”
And thus another Thanksgiving ended in Mud Lick as it should, with the entire family around the warmth of the Templeton’s big screen blaring a classic Alabama game while Sheriff Roy leafed through Scott Adams’ book “Loserthink.”