FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2012
Story, Indiana Picks New “Village Idiot”
Lifetime Achievements earn Columbus Businessman
Town’s Highest Honor
Story, Indiana. On a typical evening in this Hoosier hamlet, horses and dogs outnumber people. There are three traffic lights in all of Brown County. “We don’t have a mayor, town counsel, or anything resembling a government here,” says Rick Hofstetter, owner of the Story Inn and the town’s only employer. “We don’t need that kind of stuff.”
On an evening when the Inn is full, the town’s population may swell to 40 souls. Typically, most of them gather in the tavern located in the basement of the old General Store, to share news, gossip, and perhaps to take in some basketball or NASCAR on the town’s only television.
But despite the dearth of government, democracy thrives. On April 1 of each year, “town elders” a/k/a tavern regulars confer to elect a “Village Idiot”. It is a tradition that has thrived since the Clinton Administration, and a tribute to the fermentation process.
The balloting consists of submissions to the tavern’s bartender. “We have one requirement for voting for, and being elected to, this esteemed position: at some point, you must be a customer here” explains manager Anna Hofstetter, Rick’s daughter. “In Chicago tradition, you may vote early, and vote often.”
By consensus, this year’s “Village Idiot” is Lou Melillo, a businessman from nearby Columbus and Rick’s frequent wine-sipping companion. He owes his success to a lifetime of achievement, as well as nominations from his wife of 46 years, Holly, and his daughter, Deneb Lea. (Deneb, ironically named after the brightest star in the night sky, was elected “Village Idiot” in 2007.)
Always the ladies’ man, Lou captured Holly’s heart with a dazzling display of physical speed and agility. In showing his “Italian Stallion” boxing moves, he accidently punched her in the nose. Later, while the couple was living in married student housing, he attempted to flip Holly over his back—but dropped her on her head.
While a graduate student and young dad in the 1960’s, Lou coaxed yeast and sucrose to ferment in his (then) baby daughter’s bathtub, which he later distilled into an intoxicating, albeit unrefined, brew. (Today, Lou does not offer an explanation as to how he kept Deneb clean while the yeast did its work.) Needless to say, Lou’s provocative concoction of bathtub gin, Kool-Aid and (occasionally) canned, concentrated fruit juices will not be added to the Story Inn’s drink list any time soon. “Lou’s palate has matured a bit since Nixon was president” Rick says, to Lou’s credit.
Unlike a good Barolo or Barbaresco, which generally improves with age, Lou’s lack of tact with women has proved to be resistant to change. Six years ago, Lou attended a Drum Corps International event at Indiana University, where his then 12 year-old granddaughter Kayla was performing as a vocalist. In striking a friendly conversation with a VIP, Lou asked “When are you due?” The woman was not pregnant.
The Melillo family moved to Columbus two decades ago, where they now operate a company which designs and installs high fidelity sound systems. Despite the fact that Lou has been driving a certain route in downtown Columbus an average of once per day during those years, last week he inexplicably turned his yellow Miata onto a one-way street—the wrong way.
Lou recently borrowed a neighbor’s late-model pick-up truck to do some errands. To show his appreciation, Lou then went to the gas station to fill it up. Unfortunately, Lou found that he was not up to the challenge of operating the vehicle in reverse gear, and backed it up into a concrete pylon, causing extensive body damage. “It was not at all like driving the yellow Miata”, he explains.
Holly Melillo’s head injury may well have done permanent damage. While enjoying a dry Italian red wine in the Story Inn’s tavern, she recently proved herself unable to distinguish football highlights from an actual football game, when she exclaimed: “Who’s playing? Anybody important?” Anna, Rick’s daughter, demonstrated her football ineptitude as well. At a “brainstorming” meeting on December 15 to discuss the Story Inn’s “Counter-Superbowl” activities, she remarked: “By the way, who’s playing in this year’s Superbowl?”
Holly’s daughter, Deneb, proved herself well qualified to nominate her own father. She received “Idiot” accolades in 2007 for an ill-advised effort to maintain a level of personal hygiene while hiking in the woods. When “Nature” called, she used a leaf—of poison ivy.
Lou faced stiff competition from other “Idiot” candidates. The gene pool runs shallow in these parts. Current and past nominees included:
• A Story bartender who set her own hair on fire as she was attempting to tame her coiffure with hairspray. (The unfortunate incident did not persuade her to give up smoking.)
• A Story patron who took the blame for her Great Dane’s flatulence, so that her husband wouldn’t make it sleep outside.
• A tavern regular who somehow managed to run over her own foot with her own truck.
• A Story employee who, while learning to hunt with a bow and arrow, brought down his own Chevy Cavalier.
• A bar patron (with an engineering degree from Purdue, no less) who filled a kiddie pool on the wood deck behind his house. The weight of the water (8.3 lbs./gallon x 1000) caused the deck to separate from his house and collapse into a heap of twisted lumber.
• A Story Inn server who attempted to verify the authenticity of a Story Inn gift certificate by repeatedly calling the Story Inn from the Story Inn’s front desk. She could not understand why the other line kept ringing when she called out.
• A wine dinner guest who drank the dump bucket on a bet from his wife.
• A bar patron who mistakenly took his dog’s mange medicine; his wife claims it fixed a weak patch on his beard.
• A newly married couple who stepped out of their cottage to cool off after a dip in the hot tub. When they discovered that the door had locked behind them, she sent her husband to the front desk to get a new key, at the peak of the dinner rush, clad only in a bath towel.
• A frequent guest who proved herself worthy of her blond hair by embarking on a cross-country road trip, leaving her sandwiches on the roof of the car.
• A musician who hit a cow on his way to perform at the Story Inn. (The cow was unharmed. However, his Honda Civic needed a new side mirror.)
Lou captured “Idiot” honors from server Susan Gray, who won last year’s crown for snorting cayenne pepper in a crab boil mix. Like Lou, Susan came of age in the 1960’s.
Lou Melillo will receive a $100 gift certificate, which he will most certainly spend for the purchase of a dry Italian red. He will hold the title of “Village Idiot” until March 31, 2013.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Rick Hofstetter, (317) 590-3207
Lou Melillo, (812) 343-0019