In which I reveal the secret to Midwestern kindness


Saints get all the credit. I should know: I live with one. My husband is a saint, and no, his name is not Bernard. I need milk for my coffee; he’ll go to the store for me. It’s during a blizzard? That’s okay; he’ll drive. The car won’t work? He’ll take the bike. The bike has a flat tire? He’ll walk. His shoes are missing? He’ll go barefoot, in the snow, uphill, both ways. You get the idea. And I get my milk.


Could you hurry. My coffee's getting cold.


But I would like a little credit for myself, folks. He may be a saint, but I am the saint maker. Where would he be today if I didn’t cry, moan, yell, slam cupboards, pout, and stop talking to him because he once again failed to read my mind. My thoughts (as you know) are very simple, so it shouldn’t be that hard.


No one realizes how creative a woman has to be to come up with new ways to try his patience. If I didn’t do this, he would get flabby and all the other saints would laugh at him and throw sand in his face. I am like a heavy weight he has to lift up everyday,  the barbell that keeps him strong. You can call me Barbella, AKA the Saint Maker.


As much as I would like to take full credit for his saintliness, I won’t. Midwesterners are famous for their kindness and humility. My husband proved that by marrying someone from Texas, where even our anti-littering slogan is belligerent: Don’t mess with Texas. (Note to readers from Texas: Bless yer pea-picking hearts; y’all rock!)


It took me four years of living in Wisconsin to discover the source of their kindness. As sure as fish will fry on Fridays in every restaurant in the state, bratwurst will cook on barbecues throughout the summer. These are a cow’s or a pig’s “wurst” nightmare: German sausages made of chopped meat, usually grilled but sometimes pan-fried, and often poached in beer before the grilling. (Note to non-German speaking readers: “wurst” means sausage.)


Yes, all that kindness comes from German sausage, or brats, as they are affectionately called. You need to drop your jaw and make the vowel sound “ah” as in “father.” Otherwise, you’ll mistake them for those other people’s children that keep corrupting yours.


Here’s how it works. The small Midwestern child sits in the back of the car looking out the window. All school year he has been learning to read; now it is summer and his parents are taking him and his sisters to the park. He likes to read the signs, and the one-syllable words are the easiest. At the stoplight, he turns and looks at the familiar restaurant. They’ve put up tables and chairs outside, along with a large grill. A freshly painted sign hangs over it all: Brat Fry. The child’s jaw drops, but he is too afraid to say “Father, what does it mean?” He learned in school that “a” has the sound of “apple.” He is a little Newton, and the apple drops on his head, knocking some sense into it.  No one needs to tell him again to be kind and stop acting like a brat.


Now you know.

Northeast Wisconsin: Serving America


As you know, America has been steadily losing manufacturing jobs to not-America, where they seem to make everything cheaper and better.

But here in northeastern Wisconsin, we are doing something about that. We are showing those not-Americans! Oh sure, they can and do make dumb waiters (who talk funny), but we can make them dumber! And ours speak English, kind of.

Stand up, America, and be proud. Then sit down and let us serve you.

P.S. You know all those people whose elevators do not go all the way to the top? We do that here, too! You’re welcome.