Shelby wasn’t expecting such difficult questions when she took a job teaching grammar school in middle Tennessee. But it was an election year and little Emily had been hearing a lot of talk about politics. So she raised her hand on the first day of class and asked “Miss Shelby, what is the difference between a conservative and a liberal?” Miss Shelby thought for a while before she replied with a story that was dated but true. It happened when Miss Shelby was just about Emily’s age:
“When I was in the fifth grade, there was a girl named Hannah. She was beautiful and athletic. She used to try to beat the other boys in the 100 yard dash. She lost time and time again. But one day in fifth grade, she beat all the other little boys in a race. Patrick, who used to be the fastest boy in school, got mad. He got really mad. In fact, he picked on Hannah so badly that the school teacher grounded him from recess for an entire month. That made Patrick madder still.
“The boys in the class all picked on Patrick for losing his title as the fastest kid in school to a girl. They even went so far as to say that Patrick probably couldn’t beat Hannah in a fistfight. They teased and teased and teased poor Patrick. Then one day he just snapped did something really stupid: he challenged Hannah to a fistfight after school.
“Being a lady, Hannah declined to fight. That meant Patrick got to save some face. But, unfortunately, Patrick would not give up trying to fight Hannah. So finally, she told Patrick to meet her at the baseball field after school one day. The entire school was buzzing over the fact that Hannah agreed to fight Patrick. There were at least fifty kids who showed up for the fight. There were also a couple of dozen people waiting in the bleachers when Hannah arrived at the ball park. Among them were Hannah’s four older brothers; Ben, Peter, Rob, and Luke John.
“Patrick put up his dukes to fight Hannah. She remained calm with good reason. Patrick never saw the punch coming. He didn’t even see Ben come down from the bleachers and approach him from his weak side. But he felt Ben’s punch to his lower stomach. He also felt it when Ben rolled him over on his back, climbed on top of him, and gave him his very first broken nose. Ben pounded Patrick until his face was a bloody mess. It was made worse by the fact that he was crying uncontrollably.
“It should go without saying that Patrick never picked on Hannah again. In fact, he never picked on anyone again. He was greatly humbled by the experience of getting his nose broken by Ben. He just told his parents he was hit in the nose by a pitch and let the matter go at that. Hannah and her family are all conservative Republicans, by the way.”