Lines form quickly, mouths water, and outstretched hands offer money in exchange for these morsels of delight. Strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, vanilla, all of the flavors of the rainbow massage the senses of taste, smell, sight, and touch. The clerks strain to meet the demand as they shovel the different varieties into bags and boxes. Clutching their goodies close, the customers depart in hurried fashion. Outside, the wrappers are quickly removed, and these culinary delights are popped into gaping mouths.

The young, the middle aged, and the elderly stand about chewing, with the determined look of cows munching green pasture grass. Then something odd happens; one doesn't notice right away, but it dawns that all of these folks' munching movements have slowed, and it appears that they have trouble moving their jaws. They cast their eyes among their brethren and realize that this touch of heaven in their mouths has turned to a gelatinous mass with the power to rival gorilla glue.

Most of the children are able to expel the goo because of their smaller teeth but there is the occasional little porker who appears to be strangling because he has jammed every available inch of his yapper with this delightful treat. The adults stand in circles discreetly attempting to jam fingers into their mouths and force this mortar from their oral cavity. Thumbs, index fingers, and even whole hands wrestle with the globs of glop that they have jammed into that most noble cathedral that allows us entrance to the human body.

Extricated along with the tormentor, are partial plates, old fillings, and a few pieces of corn and steak, along with the odd piece of lettuce left behind after the last meal. The elderly stand in tight circles and reach out to grasp the jaw of the neighbor, forcing the lower jaw manually. Occasionally, a mumbled thanks is heard as the upper and lower dental plates, still firmly attached to the taffy, slide from their mouths. Eventually, they are all freed from the sweet imprisonment, but little do they know that the sequel to their misery will soon be written.

Rat tail combs, finger nail files, and knives are produced to cut and scrape at the dental devices fouled by introduction to salt water taffy. The more fortunate rush to find alcohol, thinking that it may act as a solvent and quickly return their mouth organ to a fully functional operating condition. The ground is quickly littered with the sugared expectorant and is quickly tracked hither and yon, firmly attached to the soles of shoes.

The children find that this partially digested goo has properties that should be further explored. It then winds up in their hair, eyelids, clothes, car seats, and, once in a while, on the sweet spot of the dada's pants. The middle aged and elderly soon discover that this damnable taffy has more lives than the proverbial cat. Hands remain sticky and glued together, even after repeated washings. At home, they find their shoes stuck to the rug and, on one occasion, a senior citizen nearly died of malnutrition while glued to his recliner. He was able to escape by wiggling out of his clothes and escaping nude over the arm of the taffy-free chair. He now lives in fear of being stuck, so he carries a can of lighter fluid and a tin of oil, in addition to a pistol to be used only as a last resort.

Funny how our lives seem to be one taffy pull after another as we shift around looking for the cause of all our miseries. Remember back a few short months when we stood proudly clutching our flags and rending the air with patriotic songs. We stuffed ourselves with the excess hubris of the neo-cons and danced to the drums of war. Glued to our television sets, we watched as the mighty Iraq army disappeared from the field of battle. Precision bombing and rapid advances on the field of battle soothed our fears and the journalists (?) of Fox News Network aided and abetted the jingoistic propaganda. President George W. Bush soon declared the war over. Pictures flashed on our screens, showing the great Vietnam hero landing with his piloted plane on the deck of a aircraft carrier tethered off of the coast of California. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and all of the other members of the uni-lateralist gang stood on the quarter deck beaming at how they had finally proved the faint of heart absolutely wrong. Their war was a success.

All too quickly, Iraq turned to taffy and, the more we chewed, the slower our movements became. We realized too late that we had one gooey mess stuck in our mouths. There was no way of digesting and evacuating the hasty delight we had embraced so willingly, and sought help for, so very reluctantly. The sideliners who had warned of the dangers of biting off more than you could chew were polite enough to remain silent but their eyes indicated a steady chorus of "I told you so."

The question now is how to clean up the mess and all of the residual debris, as we slowly attempt to free ourselves from the gummy mess served on a platter of American exceptionalism. I believe that we can start our cleanup by sending the Republicans in Washington a coherent message. Locally, the message can be sent, by taking a good look at what the Republican Party has served up for the next-four year political meal.

Four more years of Republican Giambracrats will embolden the candy makers to pour more adhesive into the glue that has brought the process of mastication to a halt. We have chewed for four years on this noxious taffy and, now, if we have any sense at all, the time has come to spit it out. In the land of freezer-pops and lollipops, we are all suckers

by Flora Nerk

Have you ever wondered or stood in awe while looking at a machine making taffy? Strings of gooey elastic brown sugar and molasses flip and flop in an endless stream as the arms rotate over and over in their predetermined path. Finally, the finished product is regurgitated from the bowels of this diabolical machine and packaged for sale.