All the talk of a government shutdown reminded me of the time my dad, Clark Pickens, battled the Bluebeard’s Booty Town Council. He was the mayor at the time: this was before he and mom skidded off the cliff in the snowstorm. Obviously.

One day, out of the blue, the Mortensens moved to Providence. All 11 of them. For a larger community, that might not be a problem, but that was more than 10% of Bluebeard’s Booty’s tax revenue. We were already on a shoestring, and Bluebeard’s Booty might have gone bottoms up right away if Chief Stone hadn’t taken a salary cut. He and the other officer were hardly paid anything as it was, but he’s always been insistent that we need our own police force. As he puts it: “The day I let those bozos from Newport patrol our streets will be the day I die, or the day I am bedridden or stricken blind, or the day I am somehow otherwise disabled.” He has a way with words.

So my dad the mayor came up with a few solutions. First, he suggested a 47% local sales tax. He did all the math: it would’ve covered the shortfall with enough left over to install toll booths on the road into town. Which was his other plan. Make the road into town a toll road. I’m not sure he thought that one through as clearly, since that’s the road we took into town. But the town council shot down both ideas, because they were afraid it would deter tourism. I’m not sure how, because our most recent tourist died in 1999 (not in Bluebeard’s Booty—we didn’t kill him).

Then Dad came up with his magnum opus. He formed the Commission to Discover Buried Treasure. Mom told him it was pointless, but mention buried treasure around here and people go crazy. Unfortunately, the town council (which at 52 members is a majority of the people in town) felt that funding a commission was counterproductive, so instead everyone just got their shovels and started digging. By the end of the search, we found no buried treasure, but we had damaged thousands of dollars worth of roads, sidewalks, and private property. So that turned out to be counterproductive, too.

Finally, the town council decided to shut down the government. They set a date one week ahead and we all waited with dread. But at the eleventh hour, Chief Stone came through with the greatest idea. His wife made brownies, and we had a bake sale, which raised enough money to get us through another couple of days.

We’ve never really solved the problem. It’s been years since then, and still we have a bake sale twice a week, and each week the council votes to move the government shutdown back another week. Honestly, I think they’re just doing it because they want an endless supply of brownies.

I wonder if anyone in Washington had the bake sale idea?