Ring The Bell, It’s Time For Another Round

Forrest Johnson

The National Union of Friendly Americans (NUFA), aside from providing a handshake and a personal bartender, has a saying about taking things too seriously.

 “Relax. If booze doesn’t get you, climate change will.”

So relax we will at our ancestral home at Camp Shack, far from the maddening crowd, far from the talking heads and the radio, far from any notion of news and political campaigns and the actions of the overtly ignorant who would deny voting rights and civil rights as they cry about freedoms lost.

At Camp Shack we have a small device sitting on the bar that has on its face a shiny bell. There is a button on top you can punch that flips a small lever and rings the bell in loud fashion. Written across the bottom of the device are the words “Time For Another Round.”
The device is a gift from the late Chef Leinenkugel, famous at the Camp Shack kitchens for his many eclectic recipes, including lighter-than-air motor oil pancakes and the very filling and nutritious lichen stew. To his dying day, Chef Leinie bemoaned the state of affairs in the nation, full of blowhards and their inflammatory rhetoric that has effectively masked the true plight of the Forty-Seven Percent of the Ninety-Nine Percent.

“According to Faulkner, civilization begins with distillation,” he used to say. “I say, civilization will end with deception.”

To that end, we have erected the Chef Leinenkugel Memorial Phone Booth near the head of the utilitarian trail that winds miles to Camp Shack. Inside is a vintage phone that would remind the caller of Queen Victoria. The phone is connected only to the heavens, to the universe, so all calls are toll free and not monitored or recorded for verification purposes. When you use the phone, you are free of earthly premise and pride, free of selfish or aggrandized behavior at the expense of others.

All we ask is that you please call ahead so that a personal bartender will be ready and at your disposal as you ding the bell and wish another round.   

Boy, have we been ringing that bell lately. The sound makes all the personal bartenders smile broadly as they promptly send another one down the bar your way. In this crazy, mixed-up world of (No) Right to Work attitudes spreading through the working class and the greed of the One Percent, it sure is nice to know that NUFA provides the friendliest and most compassionate bartenders on the planet.

If you’ve had too much discussion and fun for one night and you fall from your lofty perch and hit the floor with a thud, they will even drag you to your bunk, slip off your boots, and prop up a pillow behind your head. The coffee will be made by 7 a.m. the following morning, brewed in the agnostic pot that knows no evil, has no master other than selfless service.

The Camp Shack labor market has resisted the tug and pull of greed, and all workers enjoy pay that is adjusted for inflation and resistant to regressive taxes that favor the wealthy at the expense of the proletariat. The lightly trained doctors and shamans who provide services through our Camp Shack health care system fully understand that the brain surgeon needs the help of the mechanic more often than the mechanic needs the help of the brain surgeon. NUFA sanitation engineers and plumbers live right down the block from the philosophers and dentists, the musicians and the artists, the attorneys and the bail bondsmen.

Every hunting season, the Camp Shack witch doctor blesses the bullets of all hunters for free. There is no animosity when bullets fail to hit the target. Ring the bell. Time for another round. There is no blame when there is good, honest self-reflection.
Please leave deception at the door.

Alas, the world seems so willing today to accept the unacceptable, to tolerate the intractable. Waging peace and not war is the noble task at hand, but a militarism of the soul allows anger and fear to fester and blind us to the fact that we have all the bombs and drones. What are we so worried about? We have all the bombs and drones.

The sea ice has melted. We’ll trade jobs for mines that will tear open the landscape and leach acid into our watersheds. We’ll deny civil rights in the name of freedom and liberty. We’ll refuse health care in the name of liberty and freedom. We’ll accept social and income inequality, accept an erosion of worker movements that have always ensured better wages and workplace benefits for all in the name of prosperity and the free market.  We’ll believe in hollow rhetoric and vote against our best interests. We’ll believe that millionaires and billionaires understand the lives of common folk.  
Ring the bell. Time for another round.
Ring the bell.