Dudes in the News, Ohio Edition: Curious proposals and the beef queen contest.
Valentine’s Day 2011 has come and gone and with it all things Valentinian: the flowers, the candlelit dinners, the suicidal ideation in the wake of failed romantic gestures.
It is safe to say that American men differ in the way they see the day. To cynics, it’s no more than a capitalist excuse for season-targeted price boosts by romance-industry staples such as chocolatiers, florists, and escort services. Romantics, on the other hand, see every day as Valentine’s Day. They shower their loved ones year-round with gifts, compliments, and love.
Recent studies have shown that of this type of man in the United States of America (pop. 308,745, 538), there are seven (7). In one particular state of late—Ohio, of all places—men have been setting the romantic-gesture bar high, with decidedly mixed results.
A man named David Jones (no relation to superstar performer David Bowie, ne Jones), of Medina, Ohio (pop. roughly 26,000), proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Dee Horton, via a television advertisement, the Associated Press reported on February 25. Mr. Jones suggested that Ms. Horton watch a noon newscast on Cleveland television station WJW-TV. He said he’d be appearing as a superhero in a local ad. Ms. Horton and her hair-salon colleagues tuned in, only to see Mr. Jones appearing, as himself, saying, “How about you and I show the world what true love is all about?”
This can be seen to be very sweet. But here’s our question: what happens if things go wrong? Will Mr. Jones appear in an ad directed to Ms. Horton, saying, “How about you and I show the world what divorce is all about”?
We ask, because what goes uncommented upon in the AP report is the fact that Mr. Jones lied to Ms. Horton in order to entice her to watch the newscast. Yes, it was a seemingly harmless ruse. But it was a ruse nonetheless. This does not bode well for the longevity of the Jones/Horton coupling.
That lesson might be of some value to Laura Kalamets, of Canton, Ohio (pop. roughly 78,000). Her boyfriend proposed on Valentine’s Day via a bus ad, according to a February 15 Associated Press report. The boyfriend paid a local transit agency $300 for bus-side placement of the ad, which read, “Laura, Will You Marry Me—and make me the happiest man in the world?” The bus was parked outside a restaurant to which the man took Ms. Kalamets, who told the AP that when she saw the sign she thought she’d have a heart attack.
Get it? Heart attack? Valentine’s Day? Heart?
You know, some people believe that God Almighty is the Author of the eccentric novel in which we’re all living. This may be so. But when attempting to imbue His work with meaningful symbolism He sometimes seems no more almighty than a freshman creative-writing student. Witness Ms. Horton’s heart-attack statement, and the fact that the Canton man who placed the bus ad goes by the name of—get it?—Mark Rose.
We should pause here to note that Canton is the kind of town in which the local newspaper, the Repository (“Connecting Stark County”), can carry a story, as it did on February 28, with this bewildering headline: “Top-grade teen girls sought for Carroll County Beef Queen Contest.”
The item, written by Jan H. Kennedy (no relation to 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy), remarks that contestants must be between the ages of 15 and 19, have never married, and have “beef projects through 4-H or FFA, live on a farm where cattle or beef are produced or have parents who derive an income form cattle or beef production.” They will be judged on “personality and poise, ability to speak, knowledge of the beef industry, overall presentation, plus involvement and future plans with the beef industry.”
That Ohio men hold contests to judge teen girls’ value based upon beef-related criteria proves conclusively that they do indeed hold a special place for women, a place just three notches below that of a prized Guernsey.
Beef and romance may at first glance appear unrelated. They need not be. For example, two men in Ebensburg, Pa. (pop. roughly 3,000) evidently considered it a hilarious idea to leave a severed cow’s head in a sealed box on the porch of a couple away on vacation.
Police weren’t quite so amused, according to a February 23 story in the Johnstown (Pa.) Tribune-Democrat. The paper spoke to the Ebensburg police chief, who goes by the inquiring name of Terry Wyland. (Answer: well, why not land?)
The chief said that though the men knew the couple, the victims were “very upset. It really caused [them], especially the wife, stress.”
The men were arrested and charged with harassment and disorderly conduct.
“They did it as a prank,” Chief Wyland said. But, he added, “it went quite a bit over the top.”
Well, but see, it’s all a matter of context. If, for instance, one of those men was courting the Carroll County Beef Queen, a cow’s head left on the doorstep might be just the ticket:
The day after being crowned Beef Queen, Tiffany Myland, 18, awakens feeling sad. Oh, sure, she’s the Heifer Heroine of Carroll County, but, by gum, she still hasn’t met that Special One.
Bathrobe-clad and in search of Beef Queen contest coverage in the Repository, she pads onto the front porch of the house she shares with her mother, Barbara Myland, and Barbara’s long-term boyfriend, Jonathan Yourland.
Tiffany looks down and gasps. There’s the Repository, all right, but it’s peeking out from under a large, sealed box that someone has plopped on top of it.
“Oh, goody!” Tiffany cries. “A gift from a suitor!”
She reads the card: “Make no mis-STEAK, you’re the one I want to MEAT! Be My Valentine!”
Hearing Tiffany’s squeals, Barbara and Jonathan rush to the porch.
“Well, dear,” Barbara says, pointing to the box, “aren’tcha gonna open it?”
“Heck, yes!” Tiffany flips open the flaps. “Oh, my!”
Barbara peers over her daughter’s shoulder. “Well, what is it, dear?”
“Um,” Tiffany says, “a… cow head?”
“A WHAT?” Jonathan barks. “I’m calling the police!”
He races into the house. Tiffany reaches into the box and lifts the head. She admires the cow’s glassy eyes and the blood dripping from its severed neck.
“Well,” she says, “he is sort of cute. And look”—she hoists the thing atop her own head— “with a ribbon or two he’d make a gorgeous hat!”
Barbara claps gleefully. Tiffany glances up to sees a man walking sheepishly up the front path at the same moment that a cop car, siren shrieking, skids to a stop at the curb. With some difficulty, the chief of police heaves his not inconsiderable bulk from the vehicle. He clomps up the front path behind the sheepish man.
The chief addresses Tiffany. “Now, ahem, what’s all this I hear about cow’s heads?”
“Oh, it’s a Valentine’s gift,” Tiffany cries. She points to her new “hat.” “See?”
“Good Lord,” the chief says. “Who would send such a thing?”
“I did,” the sheepish man says, sheepishly.
The policeman turns to him. “I’m Chief Wyland. Who are you?”
“My name is Michael Wellwhynotland,” the man says, “but my friends call me Cud. I’ve come to ask for Tiffany’s hand in marriage.”
He turns to the young woman. “Tiffany…”
The sound of a rumbling bus drowns his words. It’s doing about a hundred and twenty when it slams into the cop car. A large placard on its side reads, “… you look amazing in that cow’s-head hat. Will you marry me?”
Tiffany screams. “Of COURSE I will! Oh, I’m the happiest girl in all of Carroll County!”
She and Cud hug. Barbara shrieks with glee. Jonathan smiles ruefully. The chief scratches his keister.
And the sun sets softly in the west even though it is only 7:30 in the morning, because that’s just the way things go, freshman-English symbolism–wise, when you’re in love.
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.