Thursday, April 16, 2009

Confused Cheesehead Holds Actual Tea Party on Tax Day

Serves "Delicious Scones."

Reporting by Keith is Good! Staff
Hayward WI; April 15, 2009

Elmer Jensen, 72, sits knees to chest at a low table dressed in his Sunday best. His papery hands fold and refold his silk necktie as a steady trickle of strangers ebb and flow from the impromptu salon before his home on Kansas Avenue. A sterling silver tea service adorns the lacy-embroidered tablecloth, catching rays of morning sun and casting them like sparks. Plated like planets around the teapot are muffins and scones of all varieties: blueberry, cinnamon, cran-apple. It's 10:43 AM and Elmer watches a timid stranger approach. Like a cat pouncing to action, he lifts the pot and a plate of whole-wheat raspberry orange muffins.

"Tea and a Muffin?" His gravel voice plays sweet against the morningsong of sparrows.

The stranger tiptoes through the dewy grass and, mumbling a thanks, takes a muffin.

"No taxes!" Elmer shouts as the stranger leaves.

Before the whole scene, propped against his John Deere mailbox, sits a large placard. Hand-written in Elmer's distinct boxy script, the poster reads "Tea Party Protest! No Taxes!"Elmer, a second-shift security guard at the local Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, explains the genesis of his protest over a cup of Earl Grey cut with milk and honey.

"Only station I get in the old F-150," he thumbs over his shoulder to a rust-addled pickup sitting in his car-port, "is AM 910." He slurrps from the teacup, an arthritic pinky held aloft. "I listen to Glenn Beck on my ride to work, and the other day he was sayin about doin a tea party to protest all these lousy communist taxes."

Asked to elaborate further, Elmer gets flustered. Carefully he nestles his teacup - part of his great great grandmothers china set, he says - back to its saucer and swallows his mouthful of lemonzest scone.

"Big government, you know, taxes...spending -- all over my personal liberties!"

This is the inaugural year for Elmer Jensen's Tea Party Tax Protest; he says protesting with fancy teas simply "wasn't needed" in years prior.

"Before we put them liberals up on the hill, I knew my taxes were being used on important things - you know, wars, bombs, fighting robots, killin arabs and getting rid of all those financial regulations. But now?" Elmer waves his hands in the air, nearly letting his half-eaten scone fly into the golden morning. "Now Obama's just plain giving my money away! Banks and car companies, and...and, and poor people!" A mist of spittle flies from his lips, his face red. "They're giving handouts to people who got fired! They're payin all these medical bills for sick people! Food for the hungry? Clothes for the naked?! That ain't America! We gotta spend smart! Use taxes to make sure those Muslims out in the Mideast stay in line!"

The septuagenarian says he'll continue as long as "Big Brother keeps his nose in my business."

But why a tea party? Wouldn't Elmer's political outrage be better served by actionable items? Perhaps writting letters to his congressman or organizing locally to curb county spending? Elmer's answer to this is eloquent in its utter simplicity.

"Glenn Beck told me so," he says, a firey twinkle in his blue eyes.

His eyebrows arched, Elmer leans across the table and lowers his voice. "You know, just between you and me...having a Tea Party...sounded kind of queer. Glenn was all 'tea-bagging' this and 'tea-bagging' that...Back when I was a seaman," Elmers eyes shift back and forth, his voice barely a whisper, "tea-bagging...well, it meant something...different. And what does Tea have to do with Taxes, anyway?"

The answer already formed in his mind, Elmer leans back, hands neatly folded on his lap. "But I got home after my shift and Sean Hannity said to do a tea party, so it can't be gay." Satisfied, Elmer gulps his remaining Earl Grey with a loud cluck.

Offered a refill on his tea, Elmer declines with a wave of his hand.

"Oh no," he says. "I'm on Medicare pills for my ticker." He looks down to the grounds swirling portents in his empty cup. "Shouldn't have had this one as it is."

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