(Non)Sense Us

One of the joys of being an American is that "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." In other words, we get counted by the Census.

This is the second Census that will count me at my home on the shores of Lake Tom, although I probably just Christmas-treed the last one in a drunken amusement stupor.

The Census is a simple questionaire…supposedly.

This year, however, I have apparently transformed into a person of great interest to the government.  Several moons ago, I received  a personal note from Robert H. "Bob" Richards, the director of the US Census, telling me that he was going to be sending me a questionaire in a few days.  Then I got another personal note telling me the questionaire would be delivered imminently.  Then a man showed up at my door with a locked briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.  He performed a retinal scan on me, then handed me my exhaustive questionaire from the US Census Bureau.  Fine.  I figured it's my patriotic duty to answer these questions.  A week later, I received another personal note from Robert "Bob" Richards, telling me that US Census Agent R-8841 delivered my questionaire, and that they would appreciate me filling it out promptly.

I took fifteen minutes and answered the questions.  One night, I dropped it into the mailbox at the Post Office next to Burger King (as opposed to the one behind where Nicole lives).

Then a month ago, I received the actual US Census questionaire.  This is shorter, more concise than the pre-Census questionaire I'd already filled out, however I was confident in my ability to answer–I mean, I'd already proved myself in the warm-up round, right?

Five minutes this time. Once again, the PO next to the BK.

Then Wednesday, I had a note taped to my door.  Stephanie Cullen, US Census Department badge #A–2854, had stopped by to interview me.  I'd been out and missed her.  She said she'd get back in touch.

Thursday night, I was driving home from work.  It was 0345, and 28th St was dark and empty.  As I approached Roosevelt, the night was suddenly illuminated by a million blue strobes. I pulled over into the Synovus Bank parking lot. 

"Get out of the truck please, Tom," a loudspeaker ordered.

I did.  A helicopter hovered, its spotlight surreally bright.  I felt like a Psorophora ferox under a microscope. An armored black Chevy Suburban pulled up. The back door opened, and out stepped Robert H. "Bob" Richards himself.

"Good evening, Tom," he said.  "Please join me.  We're going to take a ride."

The back of the Suburban was outfitted with comfortable leather couches. 

Bob opened a cooler.  He took out a Samuel Adams and handed me a Diet Mountain Dew.

"Stephanie told me you were unavailable to be interviewed, so I figured I'd take care of you myself."

Bob yelled toward the front, "Andrew, DRIVE!"

The Suburban rumbled off into the night.

"Just a few questions, if you don't mind."

I was sure Andrew had a gun, and that resistance was futile.

"Okay, Mr. Richards. I'll answer."

"Please, call me Bob."

"Okay, Bob."

"First, are you a natural-born US Citizen?"


"State, County, and City of residence?"

"Florida, Pinellas, St Petersburg."

 "How many members of Congress?"

"535–435 in the House, 100 in the Senate."

"Good answer."


"How many Justices are on the Supreme Court, and who's the Chief Justice?"

"Presently, there are 8 Associate Justices, and the Chief Justice, John Roberts."

"If you were having a barbecue, which two historical justices would you serve?"

"Um, Felix Frankfurter and Warren Burger?"

"Indeed. We also would have accepted John Joseph Coleslaw."

"There was never a Justice Coleslaw, Bob."

"Just checking.  Give me three examples of onomatopoeia."

"Gurgle, burp, and fart."

"Don't mind if I do."  Bob farted con molto brio.


"Now based on that fart, what did I have for lunch?"

"Um, God.  Popeye's red beans & rice, with two biscuits, corn on the cob, and pink lemonade?"

"Well done, although it was orange soda.  Beatles or Rolling Stones?"

"Rolling Stones."

"A trick question: most dangerous person in America today?"

"It's a tie: Regis Philbin or Ginger Sister."

"Very good.  Now, Apple Jacks or Froot Loops?"

"Apple Jacks."

"With which vodka would you make the perfect martini?"

"With no vodka.  A pure martini uses gin."

"Yes.  Bonus question: shaken or stirred?"

"Stirred–shaken causes the ice to melt too much, thus watering down the gin."

"Correct. Upon which common animal would both a Uranotaenia lowii mosquito and a coral snake dine?"

"A frog."

"Best song to boost attitude while driving?"

"`Master of Puppets,' by Metallica, or `Rock & Roll,' by Led Zep."

"Where would I find Iapetus?"

"Orbiting Saturn."

"Who's the bigger diva? Mariah Carey or Ana-Sofia Vargas?"

"Ana-Sofia Vargas."

"Who said `Go ahead: bite the big apple, don't mind the maggots!'?"

"Mick Jagger sang it in the Stones' song `Shattered.'"

"What is the Southern equivalent of the Northern breakfast, creamed chipped beef on toast?"

"Sausage gravy and biscuits."

Bob smiled. The eastern sky was pre-dawn pink.

"You're a good American, tom."

"Thanks Bob."

Andrew pulled up beside my truck.  Bob shook my hand, then checked my name off his list.

"One more down. 309,000,000 to go before I sleep."


"Yeah.  One more question…If I were to question Hannibal Lecter, which two items would be next to me on the table?"

I smiled and pulled two pictures from my pocket.


Fava beansAnd a nice chianti

Bob's head exploded.  I got into the truck and headed home.

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8 Responses to “(Non)Sense Us”

  1. I'm glad Bob approves of you. Sounds like you're safe for another 10 years.

  2. your too funny i love your stories

  3. Regis is so going down!

  4. funny. regis said the same thing about you.

  5. The retinal scan was an interesting thought! Geez…glad they aren't this persistent. Great story.

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