Most big cities seem to have their own alternative newspaper that runs an annual poll asking readers to name their favorite place to get a massage, eat Thai food, or vegetarian barbecue. In their biggest issue of the year they’ll print a “Best Of” edition announcing winners in categories like dog grooming, limo service, esthetician (whatever that is), art gallery, accupuncture, bike shop and the best place to get a facial, oil change, martini, margarita, sushi or salsa.
In the newspapers serving rural America, where cows outnumber people 4 to 1, the “Best Of” winners would be quite different. In small towns, where the only elevator in town doesn’t go anywhere, the categories for “Best Of” might be…
Best place to dump the kids- The grandparent’s house, which also won for best laundromat.
Best pizza- Dominos, but it will be a long wait because they’re 150 miles away.
Best doctor- Gary Evans, DVM.
Best celebrity- A tie between the gal who won the watermelon spitting contest at the country fair, the farmer who grew the biggest pumpkin, and the grand marshall of the Halloween Parade, Scary Larry.
Best barber- Jose’s Sheep Shearing Service.
Best taxidermist- Shoot and Shut Up Sam who also won best coyote trapper honors.
Best lawyer- Now there’s a contradiction if we ever heard one. There was no winner in this category again this year.
Best “Happy Hour”- After the wife dumps the kids off for school.
Best romantic restaurant- The coffee shop at the auction yard which was a multiple award winner also winning best breakfast, best lunch, best outdoor dining, best fine dining, best fast food and best slow food. It won every restaurant category because it’s the only place in town to eat now that the county health inspector shut down Tom’s Ptomaine Tavern.
Best place to buy clothes- The hardware store which features both Dickies and Carhartt.
Best car wash- Mother nature, which also won “Best Of” for both heating and cooling.
Best place to get a tattoo- Some place where your mom can’t see it.
Best place to buy drugs- The Rexall.
Best Locksmith- No winner again this year but wait until next year when Fast Finger Fred gets out of Leavenworth. (Note to everyone: you might want to lock up the sterling silverware, Waterford crystal and Krugerrands after July 25, when Fred regains his freedom.)
Best county fair vegetable that actually looks like someone- Joe Smith’s carrot who had more than a passing resemblance to Hog Jaw Harry owner of “You Crash ‘Em, We Smash ‘Em Junkyard” which also won best interior decorator.
Best admired woman- The mail lady.
Best admired man- The UPS driver.
Best place to hear gossip- The feed store, especially any time Big Mouth Mary is working.
Best place to take a date- A three way tie: to the top of the town’s water tower, to the truck stop out at the interstate where you can watch the bug zapper, or to the Grange Annual Chili Con Carne Dinner.
Best Place To Gas Up- The Grange Annual Chili Con Carne Dinner.
Best place to pick up chicks- Sweet Dreams Convalescent Home.
Best fishing hole- Did you really think we’d tell you that? If we did it would no longer be the best, now would it?
Best septic pumper- Smelly’s Greasy Suck Truck Service whose motto is, “Best, But Still Marginal.”