Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lake Pontchartrain and the Tar Ball Baby - a modern allegory

One day Brer Lake Pontchartrain was minding his own business providing a place for all manner of fish and fowl to enjoy his broad waters. He was especially proud of how clean he was now following decades of dredging and abuse by men of environmental ill repute. He was basking in the sunshine and enjoying the tidal motion of his brackish water when all of a sudden he felt an unusual presence near the junction of nearby Lake Borgne and the Rigolets inlet (for those of you who don't know the proper pronunciation that's Borgne, which is a homophone with "born" and Rigolets, which is pronounced RIG-o-leez). He looked and noticed a series of barges had been put into place, preventing much of the salt water from the Gulf of Mexico from moving into his basin.

But it wasn't the barges that caught his interest. It was a large black, viscous mass steadily streaming into his clean waters. Little did he know that this tar ball baby had been sent his way by the rascal Brer B.P., who hated the giant lake because no drilling was permitted there. The big black, gooey mess seemed to taunt the lake.

Brer Lake Pontchartrain called out to the mass of tar.

"Good morning," he called out.

The tar ball baby said nothing.

Brer B.P., watching from afar, smiled a broad grin. His plan was working, he thought.

"I said 'Good morning,'" the big lake continued, but there was no answer. Brer Lake Pontchartrain frowned and murmured that this was not a very polite creature, but he tried again. "GOOD MORNING!" he shouted at the tar ball baby, wondering if perhaps he were deaf.

Still no answer.

Brer B.P. was just about ready to split his sides.

Brer Lake Pontchartrain was getting angry now. "I don't know if you'all are deaf or just impolite, but I can't stand nobody that's stuck up!"

Brer B.P. was holding back his laughter.

"I'll teach ya!" Brer Lake Pontchartrain bellowed as he glared hard at the tar ball baby. He took his mighty waves and gave a great swipe at the tar ball baby. It split into hundreds of smaller pieces each wandering off further inside the proud lake. Then, another wave from the gulf brought another thick, gooey mess of tar inside the lake that clung to what was left of the original mass.

"Hello?" shouted Brer Lake Pontchartrain. "Are you makin' fun of me?" He swung again at the tar ball baby, splitting it into thousands of small pieces, each meandering to different areas inside the lake.

This went on for some time until Brer B.P. could no longer contain himself. He jumped up with a packet of contracts for drilling rights and demanded Brer Lake Pontchartrain sign them and allow oil rigs to be erected inside his boundaries.

Brer Lake Pontchartrain thought about what he could do. He didn't want to harm himself any more, but he wasn't sure how to get one over on Brer B.P.

He came up with a plan.

"You can choke off my source and dry me up," Brer Lake Pontchartrain replied, "but you know what you shouldn't do? Please don't have the government come in here and help me out with this paperwork!"

Brer B.P. said out loud: "The government, eh? I'll bet they get you so tied up with more paperwork, you won't have no time to check on environmental issues. You'll be bogged down fa sure!"

So, Brer B.P. called for the government to come in and enforce the new contracts. All kinds of agents came a’ running and swarming all over Brer Lake Pontchartrain. Brer B.P. was distracted by the response and started thinking about how rich he would soon be.

But, no sooner did the government agents start their advance to the middle of Brer Lake Pontchartrain, then the tar ball baby and all his little parts started moving out of the lake, through the Rigolets and on past Lake Borgne. Brer B.P. hadn't noticed, but soon he heard someone whistling a happy tune.

It was Brer Lake Pontchartrain!

He then saw Brer Lake Pontchartrain kicking the last of the tar ball baby out of his beautiful brackish water with the help of a few crabs.

"I was bred on bureaucrats," he said to Brer B.P.. "Ain't no other group on the face of this earth that can muck things up more, especially if you're just getting settled in a new home or counting on them to help you," he called out.

"Yep. Bred on bureaucrats. That poor tar ball baby didn't stand a chance." And Brer Lake Pontchartrain went on about his business, while Brer B.P. gritted his teeth in anger and stamped off in a fit of rage.

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