Keepin' the young'uns safe
The Bug Crick Board of Ed has spoken!
Image by Robert McCullough used under a Pixabay license
[Intro music to Richard Dawson-era “Family Feud” plays. Interior of a shack out in the woods, made of rough-hewn tamarack logs with mortise and tenon joins and gaps filled with dried mud and caulk. Wooden sign with childish whitewash letters that say BUG CRICK BOARD OF ED. Seated at a rickety table piled with books are CLEM and FESTUS, both about 30 and wearing overalls and soiled white T-shirts and clodhoppers; FESTUS also wears a ragged conical bucket hat and CLEM smokes a corn-cob pipe. Standing behind them is JEHOSHAPHAT MOOGLY, wearing a 19th Century frock suit and a string tie. JEZEBEL, clad in a potato sack and a beat-up old colonial bonnet, and shoeless, sits on a pile of straw and records the meeting with a burnt stick on a coal shovel. A hog and some chickens roam.]
MOOGLY: All right, this heah meetin’ o’ the Bug Crick Board o’ Education is in session. Clem and Festus, y’all the lib’ary committee, an’ ah see y’ got a heap o’ books there fum the schoolhouse. Has you inspected ‘em lahk we discussed?
FESTUS: Yessir, Mr. Moogly, we done read ‘em all.
CLEM: Warn’t no trouble to. They’s all funny books!
MOOGLY: All funny books, eh? W’al, they cain’t be no harm in thet.
FESTUS: Thass where you wrong, Mr. Moogly. Some o’ them is right inappropriate fo’ young’uns.
MOOGLY: You don’ say! Land sakes, it’s gittin’ so you cain’t even give a chile a funny book no mo’ without it bein’ full o’ devilment. [Points to book] What about thet one?
FESTUS: This’n’s the one the folks over t’ McMinn County tole us about. The one called “Maus,” M-A-U-S, with the nekkid mice.
MOOGLY: Don’ like the sound o’ thet. ‘Tain’t spelled raht, fo’ one thing. Lemme see thet.
[They hands it back to MOOGLY; he thumbs through it.]
CLEM: It’s about the Jews in World War II, only they’s mice.
FESTUS: S’posed to be some kinda artistic statement, lahk Schindler’s List.
JEZEBEL: Them Jews is allus bellyachin’ ‘bout sumpin’ ‘r other.
MOOGLY: Ah don’t cotton to this mouse sassin’ his pappy. ‘Tain’t funny like the Katzenjammer Kids. Just disrespectful!
[MOOGLY tosses it in the corn-crib.]
All right, what’s next.
FESTUS: They’s this ol’ book, Krazy Kat. Miz Grundy sez the li’bary had it fo’ a coon’s age.
MOOGLY: Oh yeah, I ‘member thet — the cat loves the mouse but he th’ows the brick at her! Allus tickled me fo’ some reason. An’ the mouse is drawed so y’ cain’t tell he’s nekkid. I reckon thass all right, then.
CLEM: No it ain’t, Mr. Moogly, ‘cuz looky here:
[CLEM opens the book and holds it up so MOOGLY can look at it.]
On this page, see, Krazy Kat is a girl an’ they talk to her lahk a girl, but on this page — [He turns the page] they talk to Krazy Kat lahk he’s a boy!
MOOGLY: A girl turnin’ inta a boy! Thass thet trans-sexualism ol’ Rod Dreher tol’ us about when he come through heah sellin’ armbands! Nex’ thing y’ know them gal young’uns’ll be gittin’ they bosoms chopped off! Well, we cain’t have none o’ thet.
[MOOGLY grabs the book and throws it in the corn-crib.]
Cain’t see how we missed it all these yeahs. Ain’t it funny how everythin’ we thought was innocent and fun turns out to be just a mess o’ deviation?
CLEM: Ah know! Since thet Mr. Rufo come here an’ lectured us, we done had to tear the Civil Woah pages out the hist’ry books ‘cuz they was plumb full o’ C.R.T.!
FESTUS: ‘N mah fambly an’ me cain’t enjoy the TV no moah less’n it’s wrasslin’ or church, ‘cuz ev’y tahm ah see a black person ah’m a-thinkin’, that’s them C.R.T. people tryin’ t’ make us feel bad ag’in.
MOOGLY: Well, these here young’uns we gawt in Bug Crick don’t need t’ learn too much hist’ry — they’s all a-gonna work at the chicken renderin’ plant anyways, and all they gots t’ know is which end’s the beak an’ which end’s the butthole! [Laughs] ‘Scuse me, Jezebel.
JEZEBEL: [Busily scrawling on a coal shovel] Tain’t bothered.
MOOGLY: All right, boys, pass me back another.
[CLEM does; MOOGLY looks at it.]
[MOOGLY studies it for two seconds, then throws it in corn-crib. BLACKOUT.]