April 2009. At a Qdoba in downtown Winnetka, a mother and daughter discuss the latter’s college plans. Nearby sits an older distinguished gentleman wearing exclusively American-made clothing. This is Henry Clay.

MOTHER: I don’t understand why Northwestern isn’t good enough. They’ve got a great chemistry department.

DAUGHTER: visibly annoyed Geez, Mom, how many times do I have to tell you this? Dalhousie’s chemistry department is totally awesome. It’s like the best university in the Maritimes, for god’s sake. Plus, I’m sick of Chicago. I need to expand my horizons. I want to study overseas. Ugh.

Henry Clay leans over to speak with the two ladies.

HENRY CLAY: Excuse me. I was sitting here enjoying my Signature Ancho Chile Barbecue Burrito, and I couldn’t help but overhear you discussing college plans. Why doesn’t the young lady give Northwestern a try for one year. If she still doesn’t like it, she can transfer to Dalhousie.

Mother and Daughter look at each other. Both of them seem to think Mr. Clay’s idea makes for a nice compromise. They voice their assent.

HENRY CLAY: Ahhh, good.

Henry Clay grins devilishly, like he did after orchestrating his successful (kind of) resolution to the Nullification Crisis of 1833.

- - -

December 2010. In Mexico City, a U.S. climate change negotiator argues with his Chinese counterpart.

CHINESE NEGOTIATOR: We absolutely cannot accept this proposal. The developed world has created this global warming crisis, and you must lead us out of it. The United States must pledge to cut emissions by 50% and provide low-cost technology to developing nations.

U.S. NEGOTIATOR: My country will never agree to such drastic cuts unless yours agrees to the same. China is the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases in the entire world.

A dapper man enters and takes a seat next to the two negotiators.

HENRY CLAY: with booming voice, somewhat out of place in the small conference room Gentlemen, surely we can find some compromise!


HENRY CLAY: And I am Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser. I have an idea that will appeal to both of your great nations. Neither of you want to decrease emissions unless the other one decreases emissions, right? So why don’t you both not decrease emissions?

A pause.

U.S. NEGOTIATOR: I’m cool with that. You?

CHINESE NEGOTIATOR: Umm, it seems wrong, but . . .

HENRY CLAY: Then it’s settled!

Another pause.

HENRY CLAY: Did I mention that I invented the mint julep?

- - -

April 2011. In a bar outside Fenway Park in Boston, a Boston Red Sox fan argues with a New York Yankee fan about which baseball club is superior.

YANKEES FAN: You suck.

RED SOX FAN: You wicked suck.

HENRY CLAY: Why, good evening, fellows. I see that you two cannot agree regarding which baseball club is superior. May I suggest that you agree to root for a different team that you both enjoy? Perhaps the Kansas City Athletics?

The two fans stare at Henry Clay, then back at each other, then back at Henry Clay. This goes on for maybe thirty seconds. Things become uncomfortable.

HENRY CLAY: Or you could fight a duel. I did that twice.

- - -

May 2011: The daughter who wanted to attend Dalhousie University but didn’t because of Henry Clay’s compromise proposal and instead ended up never leaving her parents’ house dines on greasy pork chops while her disgusted mother looks on.

MOTHER: Are you ever going to move out of the basement?

MOTHER: mouth full of food_] I don’t know. No. [_burps

MOTHER: Damn that Henry Clay.

Henry Clay pops into the kitchen, still wearing all American fabrics, including Lee brand dungarees.

MOTHER: Oh, great. Look who it is.

DAUGHTER: I’m not going back to college. Ever.

MOTHER: to Henry Clay You got any more great ideas, hotshot?

- - -

March 2012: In downtown Seattle, a man and a woman debate which fast food outlet to visit for lunch.

MAN: Let’s go to Burger King. They flame broil.

WOMAN: But Wendy’s is so much better. They have square patties.

HENRY CLAY: tapping woman on shoulder Maybe you should consider an alternative. Instead of having a burger this afternoon, maybe you should go to Qdoba. I hear they have a terrific signature Ancho Chile Barbecue Burrito for only $4.95.

MAN: Oh, look, it’s Henry Clay, here to push one of his famous “compromises” on us.

WOMAN: brushing Henry Clay’s hand off her shoulder Yeah, what’s in it for you, Clay? I bet you get a kickback for each signature Ancho Chile Barbecue Burrito you convince someone to buy. That’s right, isn’t it?

MAN: What a corrupt bargain!

HENRY CLAY: I’ll fucking kill you.