By Lore Sjöberg
If you’re new to the United States, or to the internet, or to Earth, you might be surprised at the way some people act. From all-caps posts on web message boards to pickup trucks parked across two spaces, you’ll see people behaving as if they belong to some anointed class of people who are allowed to do whatever they want with no concern for the comfort or convenience of others.
You’ll be relieved to know that in the United States, at least, they do in fact belong to such a class. We call these people the Nimby family.
You see, back in 1850, a man named Eustace Nimby saved President Zachary Taylor’s daughter from a mountain lion, then saved the mountain lion from a rattlesnake. (The mountain lion was also the president’s.)
In honor of this man’s brave meddling, Taylor declared that from then on, Nimby and his family and all their descendants would be given “free license to act in whatsoever manner is best pleasing to them, even unto the point of great vexation among those in attendance upon their acts.”
Well, as it turns out, Nimby was a pretty fecund dude. Even at the moment of presidential daughter-saving, he had three kids by each of six sequential marriages, and seven of his children had children of their own. One in particular, John Nimby, was out in California spreading his seed with such vigor that he acquired the nickname “Johnny Johnnyseed.” With Nimbys on both coasts of the United States — and quite a few in between where John had taken rest stops — America suddenly had a new class of effective nobility.
At first, America embraced the Nimby family, celebrating them with songs like “O! Those Nimbys, or, The Finest of Us All.”
It soon became apparent, however, that the Nimbys intended to take constant advantage of their new status, and citizens throughout the nation were inconvenienced by such heretofore-unknown sights as double-parked horses and loudly shouted, ill-considered opinions in the town commons. But by then, President Taylor was dead, having nobly sacrificed himself to protect the country from a deadly bowl of cherries and milk, and America was unwilling to defy his last coherent proclamation.