Most of us, having been children once, have been bullied at one point or another. Consequently, most of us have strategies for how to deal with bullies, be it ignoring them, reporting them, or (my personal favorite) indulging in a daydream with a plot taken directly from Stephen King’s Carrie. These are, more or less, socially acceptable ways to handle the problem, provided I don’t actually develop telekinetic powers. (And, when I do, presuming I can work up the motivation to use them for something other than the acquisition of Cheetos. On the whole, being my enemy is a fairly safe proposition.)
None of these, however, are Ralph Bruno’s way. No, Ralph opted to dismantle his couch, form it into a dairy product-themed hat, and somehow leverage the combination of the two into a legislative commendation as recently as last Tuesday.
Ralph created, in the truest sense of the word, the Cheesehead. Taunted by Chicago Bears fans – presumably because they have a mascot that can, you know, actually eat things – Ralph returned home and forged the innards of his couch into a de facto standard for a team whose name does not otherwise lend itself to visualization. According to the same article from where the above information was taken, Cheeseheads (I suppose it merits capitalization) are retailed nationwide as well as in thirty different countries – begging, of course, the questions of which countries? And why? Were he not dead, I’d be writing Carl Jung and asking him if a piece of cheese worn on the head is some sort of overlooked universal archetype, perhaps up there with the color green symbolizing spring and the Yugo symbolizing Soviet engineering. While I’m writing to dead people, I’d send a letter to Freud and ask if a cheese-themed cap could be interpreted as a phallic symbol, but I’m afraid I’d get a note back asking about the likelihood of my killing my father and marrying my mother…with telekinetic powers. (There’s a horrifying new spin on an old chestnut.)
While we’re on the subject, the claim reads that the Cheesehead is, and here I directly quote, “one of the state’s most beloved cultural symbols,” which is a statement I would like to take issue with. Beloved? By whom? Has it been immortalized in poetry?
I think that I shall never see / a poem so lovely / as that cheese.
Has it been commemorated in song?
Smoke on the water / a Cheesehead on that guy.
No, “beloved” is not the verb I would have gone with. How about “tolerated?” I could get behind “tolerated.”
I could also get behind existing in a state where, nine months out of the year, I could wear purple or mention Norse mythology without the risk of being bludgeoned by someone’s cheddar-shaped headgear. Though I suppose things aren’t any better on the other side of the Mississippi, as I’d probably be required to swear off dairy products and craft beers, as well as having to dress like Hagar the Horrible, all for the purpose of blending in. (Although there are days I’ve thought carrying a sword might somehow improve my standard of living. I will, however, be the first to admit it would have the opposite effect for anyone seated behind me and talking at the theater.)
But I digress, which means Ralph Bruno is not getting the credit due to him – although what credit that is, exactly, may remain unknown to everyone save Wisconsin’s legislature. Are they honoring him for the hat? His anti-bullying measures? His creative use of a couch? All of the above?
Yes, when confronted with a man noteworthy only because, one cool fall day, his response to being bullied was to dismantle a piece of furniture and reshape it into a dairy product, my first thought would not be legislative recognition. But what is done is done. So why stop there? I think we should knight him or, if necessary, export him somewhere he can be knighted. After all, we already know what his coat-of-arms would be.