I’ve heard about you, John Winthrop. I wouldn’t be showing up to your adequately furnished houseboat if I hadn’t. Heck, a lot of people have heard about you. My daddy says you’re a man of mediocre grit. And on behalf of an okay-sized portion of Walker County, I’m here to say we need you, John Winthrop. We need a man of mediocre grit.
See, the town’s in trouble. That lousy, no-good gang of well-financed bandits is at it again. We don’t know if they’re out to blow up a railroad, or rob the treasury, or switch everyone’s horses around for more of a psychological jumble that’s a cover up of a bigger thing, but by god, they’re certainly back.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why a man of mediocre grit? Why not a man of true grit?” Because they’re all dead, Mr. John Winthrop, that’s why. See, we’ve had men of true grit do what you’re about to do. Men with a tarnished past, ostracized by society on erroneous pretenses, looking for one last chance at redemption. The thing is, true-grit types also tend to be leave-it-all-on-the-table-and-die-a-legend types. Frankly, we don’t need any more of those. Matter of fact, we don’t actually have any more of those. As aforementioned, they’re all dead. What are we supposed to do next year when a new wave of bandits come through? It’s unsustainable, you understand.
See, true-grit types like to think of themselves heroes. Now, I suppose it makes for a good story: gun-slinging man-with-no-name, shooting up the bad guys to save the day, maybe giving up his life in the process. But no, that’s actually dumb. It’s not heroism; it’s selfish. It’s also not in the budget. Between you and me, we spent over $10,000 of the county’s reserves rebuilding after a true grit vs. bandit firefight last year alone. You could buy everyone in the county a new hat with that kind of money. Several times over, in fact. New hats for life if it weren’t for these damn trigger happy hotheads we keep sending it to fix whatever problem befalls our town. And no, it’s not the sheriff’s job to fix these sorts of things. The sheriff is more of a bureaucratic position, a desk thing really. Sort of a day-gig to support my painting. But I’m doing my best, and this isn’t about me.
What this county needs is a man of bona fide mediocre grit. A man perpetually stuck in act one of his own life’s theater-play. A man who knows what it means to take a rain check. We don’t need you to solve the whole problem, just put an honest dent in it. Take a less conventional approach. Use your words maybe. Think outside the box. I could see you maybe dressing up like a lady and starting a love triangle that causes the bandits to betray each other or something. I’m just brainstorming here—I’ll leave it up to you. For the record, I will say, I do think dress-up is a fine idea. I remember that kissing booth you manned during the last county cotillion. Had me pretty darn convinced.
John Winthrop, you’re the man of honest-to-god mediocre grit we’re looking for. Those idiosyncrasies of yours that are a tiny bit unflattering and off-center, those are just what this county needs. We need a man who likes to wear socks when he makes love. We need a man who sits down when he pees, and sometimes vice versa. We need a man whose dog is his best friend, not in a poetic sense, but in a sort of melancholic literal sense. We need a man like you, Mr. Winthrop.
Maybe we could settle for a man of a decent amount of grit, or for a man of questionable-perhaps-dubious grit. But Mr. John Winthrop, when times are as they are, when scary bandits threaten this town’s way of life, we need you. A man of mild grit—excuse me—mediocre grit. It was mediocre grit I’ve been saying this whole time. Although I do like “mild grit” better now. Pretend I’ve been saying that the whole time.
I’m going to let you think it over, John Winthrop. In the mean time, please accept this quart of non-alcoholic cider as a token of trust. I’ve made sure it’s the kind that won’t upset your allergy. You’re welcome. Enjoy the rest of your bath and your game of mahjong. We’re counting on you.