“Those Americans are funny,” Boggel says as he shines another glass. “They made a law to say it is now legal to be married – and be happy.”
Precilla smiles sweetly. “You sure? Isn’t happily married a prime example of an oxymoron?”
“That’s my point – it’s stupid to make laws about something like that. If it works, it works. If not…well there isn’t any law that can fix it.” Kleinpiet draws a perfect circle on the counter. “A wedding ring should be a symbol of happiness, anyway. If you’re not at least excited a bit, you shouldn’t get married.”
“At least we don’t need those laws in Rolbos. We only have Oudoom who’s married to Mevrou, and he doesn’t count. Pastors can’t admit they’re unhappily married – it’s illegal, I think. The rest of us are happy the way we are.”
Gertruida comes in with this week’s Upington Post in her hand.
“Did you see the paper? The Americans are now saying we were right about these marriages.” She points at the front page. “This scares me.”
“What? Laws about happy marriages?” Vetfaan doesn’t understand.
“No man! We’ve had those for years now.” She gives him her all-knowing look. “But if they start following our example, they’re in trouble. Imagine that Obama guy marrying six wives? And having twenty children? They’ll have to start building toll roads as well – I feel sorry for them.”
“I hope Oudoom won’t preach about this on Sunday.” Boggel puts the glass on the shelf. “He always finds an excuse not to address important matters. He should be preaching about love and hope and faith – but last Sunday he rambled on about sin and disobedience.”
“Oh well, Boggel, we’ll do what we always do. A quick Cactus Jack after church never hurt anybody.”
A comfortable silence settles in the little bar as Vrede ambles in for a titbit.
“Dogs are lucky, aren’t they? I mean, they don’t need laws or sermons or stuff like that. Look at Vrede – as long as he’s fed, he’s a happy dog.” Precilla rubs his ears while feeding him some biltong.
“You’re right, Precilla.” Kleinpiet rubs out the circle with his handkerchief. “We’ve complicated happiness to the point we have to make laws about it. Maybe that’s what sin is all about – not being happy, I mean.”
Gertruida pats him on the back. “Gosh, Kleinpiet, that is profound. Unhappiness the root of all evil? That’s a deep thought. Well done.”
Kleinpiet smiles. He doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about anyway. He doesn’t care much about laughter and happiness. He’ll never admit it, but he’d love to be loved.
They don’t talk much about love in Boggel’s Place. It’s too rare to warrant mention. There are so many other things to occupy their minds, anyway: droughts and sermons are much more important than laws about happiness.
Vrede curls up under the counter with a contented sigh. The way humans can complicate matters is quite beyond him. H e wags his tail as Boggel offers him another scrap of biltong. They should be kind to one another, like they are with me, he thinks.
But, of course, dogs don’t speak.
And the world will stumble along in darkness until they make a law that makes stupidity illegal…