I’ll admit it. There are many mysteries in this world I will never be able to grasp. Like, when did time begin? How big is the universe? Is there life after death? Why does a loving God let good people suffer? How can I get the flashing “12:00” on my VCR set to the correct time?

And this week I find myself confronted with yet another unfathomable enigma: Why does the entire state of Montana hate me?

That’s right. I am convinced Montana hates me. And I have absolutely no idea what I have done to offend it. You see, I periodically check Google Analytics to see where traffic to my web site comes from. I have had visitors from every continent (except Antarctica).

I have had web site visitors from Tanzania, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Belarus, China, South Korea, Ghana, and just about every nation in Europe. I’ve had visitors come all over – from Maui to Moscow, from Singapore to Sao Paolo. In the past year I have had at least one visitor from every single state in the USA…. except for… you guessed it – Montana. Not one visit from anyone in Montana in 12 months – nada –– zippo – zilch – bupkes.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what I may have said or done to offend the great people of Montana. Perhaps it was that one barely publicized post I did a long time ago entitled FIFTY REASONS WHY MONTANA IS THE WORST STATE EVER – EVEN WORSE THAN MISSISSIPPI. Sure someone might be slightly offended from the title – but that’s because they took it out of context. I have not said an unkind thing about Montana in months – unless you consider my post entitled A SOLUTION TO OUR NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL PROBLEM: MONTANA. But in my defense, I used an exhaustive list of compelling, documented (potentially fictitious) references to support my argument.

Oh, and when I errantly blogged that Montana was the welcoming home to more White Supremacist hate groups than any other state, I sincerely apologized for my error less than four months later with a footnote buried at the bottom of page 3 of my blog post. Turns out that Idaho claims the pole position for white supremacist hate groups. Montana isn’t even in the top 3. My bad.

Finally, I want to apologize for referring to the Montana State University football team as a bunch of Bozos. I meant no disrespect. Okay, so I was wrong. You’re actually the Bob Cats. But it’s not entirely my fault. You picked a pretty funny-sounding town to build your university: Bozeman. What were you thinking? I just naturally assumed any team from Bozeman would of course be nicknamed the Bozeman Bozos. In hindsight, I admit I should have done a bit more research.

So Montana, I want to make it up to you. You are, after all, a truly wonderful state – for sure in the top 38 to 42 for quality of life, depending on how much weight you ascribe to having Armageddon-like winters or the fact that there are no Macy’s stores for hundreds of miles, in your determination of quality of life. I have done some research about your fair state and I have come to appreciate that yours is in fact a marvelous place to live – assuming, that is, you’re a bison, mountain goat, grizzly bear, big horn sheep, moose, mountain lion, elk or a member of the National Rifle Association.

There are countless famous Montanonians, including Evel Knievel, Gary Cooper, comedian Dana Carvey, and two other people you probably have never heard of. Of course, who could forget perhaps the most famous Montanan of all – NFL legend Joe Montana, after whom the 41st state was named.  Prior to Joe (whose daughter Hannah is a noted child songstress), the state was usually referred to simply as “the place to the right of Idaho”.

Montana is the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn, otherwise known as Custer’s Last Stand – scene of one of the most notorious slaughters of all time – if you don’t count Super Bowl XXIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos, in which the 49ers, led by Montana’s own Joe Montana, slaughtered the Broncos 55 to 10 in the worst route in Super Bowl history.

Montana’s state motto is the Latin phrase “Oro y plata” (literally “gold and silver”), which I think we can all agree is a marked improvement over their previous state motto which, translated from Latin, was “Our state may be cold and dreary in winter, but have you tried living in North Dakota?”

Montana’s history is colorful and rich. Here is just a brief snippet: “First explored for France by François and Louis-Joseph Verendrye in the early 1740s, much of the region was acquired by the U.S. from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Before western Montana was obtained from Great Britain in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, American trading posts and forts had been established in the territory. Much of Montana’s early history was concerned with mining, with copper, lead, zinc, silver, coal, and oil as principal products. Butte is the center of….. “ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Okay, I was wrong. Montana’s history is crushingly dull. The history of pronouns is more stimulating reading. I am sorry I put you through the previous paragraph.

Still, I want to make it up to the fine people of Montana Nation by dedicating my blog in the upcoming year to reaching out to your fair state with an olive branch, or should I say a fly fishing rod, of friendship. Let me start by apologizing to each of you personally for my past insensitivity towards the people of your state:

Andy Anderson, I apologize… Cletus Anderson, I apologize… Nate Anderson, I apologize… Mary Andrews, I apologize… Ned Andrews, I apologize.… Stuart Anton, I apologize…

Um, this is going to take a bit longer than I had thought. I will get back to you later on the personal apologies. But in the mean time, I am committed to writing a blog column that addresses the issues and interests that the people of Montana care about. That’s why next month all my posts will be about a topic near and dear to every Montanan: Fly fishing. There is no limit to the amount of raw humor material I can mine when it comes to a sport that consists mainly of standing alone in hip waiters in icy cold waters for hours on end, waiting and waiting….. Just the names of the fishing lures will keep my readers in stitches: names like the “woolly bugger” and “chubby darter” and “red ripper.”  I can just hear my readers laughing hysterically as they reach for the DELETE key.

The month after that, Montana, I’ve decided to focus all my posts on the migration patterns of the indigenous bison found in the Big Sky state. I am laughing already, just thinking about the rich fodder for humor in this topic: “In the winter time, the herd of Bison, in search of a fresh source of food, had to go to Hel(ena) and back…” Get it? I’ve got lots more where that came from.

For spring, I’m excited to tell you about my plans to devote 15 consecutive issues to a different ore mined in your fair state, from A to Z, starting with Agate and ending with Zinc. Personally, I think week nine (lead) will be a real page turner. For next fall, I thought I would feature profiles of local cattlemen from all across your state, starting with Missoula, and working my way to Butte, on to Great Falls, and culminating with the Bull Riders of Billings. (You might say that Billings will get “top Billing” – get it?) Man, this will keep ‘em coming back for more, week after week. Who doesn’t like an in-depth discussion of cattle branding techniques? I know I do.

So what do you say, Montana? Can we call a truce to the rift that has kept us apart since the inception of this humor blog in 1975? Now will your citizens please consider reading my blog? I really want us to patch things up once and for all. For starters, how about a giant group hug and a chorus of We are the World?

Besides, I never meant to imply that Montana is a cold, bleak, empty, treeless, wide open dust bowl of a state with nothing to do but freeze your ass off for five months every winter. I always meant to imply that about North Dakota instead. Talk about a state that wouldn’t be missed, am I right? North Dakota! What a hellhole of a place to have to call home. Are you with me on this, Montana?

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: Hey, Montana. Did I mention that I am willing to change my perennial tagline above to “That’s the view from the Big Sky State?” Think about it. I’m open to your suggestions.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011

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