I have long thought that I would be a wonderful benevolent dictator of a small country, and the more dysfunction and stupid-choice-making I see around me, the more I think my wise leadership is needed. So as soon as I can secure the space (Great Britain, you’re letting the East Caicos Islands just SIT there), here are the rules for making your home in Johnsonia. Competition for residency will be fierce, so get your applications in now …
— Every resident/family will receive a new house from their choice of several floor plans. Every house will include a front porch, spacious back yard and hardwood floors.
— Fireplaces will be optional because Johnsonia weather will be moderate, with lows no lower than 50 degrees and highs no higher than 80. There will be at least one thunderstorm or steady rain each week and no tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes.
— You may own a gun or bullets, but not both.
— No activity in Johnsonia will require jazz hands.
— If the waistband of your pants falls more than two inches below your navel you will have a choice of punishments: go everywhere pantsless for a day or wear only leather pants for a week.
— Good TV and movies will be celebrated as art. However, certain shows—including The Jerry Springer Show, infomercials, the movie Hot Tub Time Machine, and anything involving a Kardashian—will be prohibited. The Voice will be tolerated as long as you don’t feel compelled to talk about it with anyone not already into it, including the dictator of Johnsonia.
— Each resident will participate in a yearly driving test, administered by me or a person of my choice. If you (a) drive more than 8 miles below the speed limit; (b) unconsciously brake when getting to the good part of the story you’re telling; or (c) veer from lane to lane without checking your blind spot, there is a good chance I will get cranky and revoke your license for a time period of my choosing.
— Discussion of one’s “peeps” will not be tolerated.
— Every resident will read at least one book a month. The book may not be authored by Jayne Ann Krentz.
— Sensors will be installed in every restroom, public and private, and will emit loud embarrassing messages if you don’t wash your hands before leaving. With soap.
— If you pronounce the word “vase” so that it rhymes with “gauze,” you’re outta there.
— The entire country will have laser-fast free WiFi. However, if you text/update Facebook/check your email while driving or during a conversation, all privileges will be revoked.
— A Johnsonia representative must approve your pet. If it howls, barks excessively (as determined by me), chases/bites/threatens people walking by its house, jumps up on its hind legs to lick people on the face, or puts its front paws on the kitchen table it will be immediately removed.
— Church attendance is optional, as is choice of religion. However, you will want to attend Johnsonia Christian Church because it will include bluegrass music, a full orchestra, poetry, painting, a C.S. Lewis book club, stained glass, antique wooden pews, fair-trade coffee from New Zealand, homemade cinnamon rolls and 22-minute sermons from a variety of special guest speakers including Tim Keller, Donald Miller, and Barbara Brown Taylor.
— Powdered creamer is prohibited.
— Raising chickens in your back yard is prohibited.
— Johnsonia will include a few restaurants with delicious, healthy, reasonably-priced food. The experience will not be spoiled with pop music piped in at ear-splitting volume. At no time will a waitress tell you she’ll be “taking care of you today” or complain about what a tough day she’s had. If Celine Dion comes on the radio your meal is free.
— Encouraged but not required: community gardening, cooking from scratch, excessive reading, long walks, sitting on the front porch and talking to neighbors taking long walks, watching sunsets, learning an instrument, celebrating with champagne, writing letters, talking to preschoolers.
— If you receive approval to live in Johnsonia, consider it an implicit approval for you to procreate more of your kind. Please mind the neighbors, however.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Theresa Thompson