Copyright 2009 Ben S. Pollock
DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — Dear Wal-Mart shareholders and employees, oops, I mean “associates.” And the former, you smart happy investors.
If you’ve come to Northwest Arkansas before, we’re glad to have you back, and that means you don’t need to trouble yourself further in the reading this letter of welcome. So leave them for the others. The rest of you, W-M F-Ts (first-timers) will find this introduction helpful.
The plan was for this to be in each of your Welcome Y’all Packets, but I had ran into some roadblocks, literal roadblocks, then burly security guards, I mean Inventory Control Associates, who are getting time-and-a-half working the sites of the meetings and entertainment. So thank you for walking past me here in the parking lot and accepting this document:
Razorback — This refers to the friendly creatures you see in the turf near the sidewalks and parking lots. The ridge along the spine is not razor-sharp, that’s just hillbilly talk. It’s fur. You may have heard that the Arkansas Razorback is a large, wild pig. We’re all mistaken. Since the University of Arkansas has been losing so many games in so many sports for too many years, the mascot was re-examined and found to be much smaller and surprisingly docile. It’s really a marsupial, not a rodent, with something of a ferret in the torso. You can see aspects of the legendary snipe about its snout.
Razorbacks make excellent pets, and you’re welcome to take home with you a pair. For heavens sake, don’t buy them, just pull them out of the ditch. Don’t take one because they mate for life and the other will die of heartache. This way, your home town can become a birthplace. Being marsupials, related to the opossum and kangaroo, you’ll soon see they carry their young in a pouch, but before you leave you may want to buy an Ozark handcrafted miniature stroller, as young Razorbacks love their four-wheelers.
In the Chamber of Commerce guides you’ll see that two Target stores have opened in recent years. Don’t believe it. You think the cities and counties here would zone for competition on the Wal-Mart backyard much less the frontyard? What you behold are fake buildings, like Hollywood back lot setups. The sight of them from Interstate 540 and U.S. 71 Business keeps Wal-Mart home-office homebodies thinking more sharply. What about the cars parked around the Targets? That’s unsold inventory from Chrysler and General Motors.
Some of your main programs are set at Bud Walton Arena on the Fayetteville campus of the University of Arkansas. This is about the only time you’ll be allowed near the region’s Vegas Strip, aka Dickson Street. Note that your events here are in daylight. If you get to Dickson, all you’ll be able to do is eat and maybe shop at two bookstores.
Bud Walton, which you know from UA Bud Walton Arena for your big meetings, is a brother of Our Father. Sam. Walton. Sam and Bud had another brother, Wilbur Walton. Sam did not forget to honor Willy, though this is not in your brochures.
You will have noted that a few yards from Mister Sam’s 5-and-10 Store visitor center, in the center of the downtown Bentonville Square, is a statue of a Confederate soldier. Don’t you think this is pretty far North to honor the losing side of the Civil War? It’s no more than five miles from the Mason-Dixon line. Well, if there’s anything more embarrassing a Confederate war monument, it would be Willy Walton, though no one outside the family ever learned just what he did. Go ahead, walk close to it and you’ll see the family resemblance.
You probably can’t wait to learn who Wal-Mart is getting for your entertainment. In previous years Wal-Mart has flown in such pop stars as Queen Latifah and Jon Bon Jovi. While your company is making money this year, it is being careful. Still, they want to honor their employees with great shows. This year, you’ll see on the arena’s Jumbotron a rebroadcast of a 1956 concert by the Nairobi Trio. Even getting American Idol’s fourth-place winner would be imprudent in the recession.
Last, the rumors about a beach are true. With global warming, the Gulf of Mexico comes within sight of your hotel. The government has kept this a secret to prevent a run on the beach, but there’s nothing like the smell of saltwater, the sight of swaying palms and music of both ukuleles and banjos. So don your suit and grab one of their towels. The boardwalk is on the other side of your inn; just walk around till you find it. If you ask at the front desk for directions, they may play dumb. Remember, this is our little secret.
NWA Welcome Wal-Mart Committee