Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Ask Boss Warlock: I've Committed the Worst Midwestern Sin. Now How Do I Get Clean of It?

 Rhubarb Information and Facts

Dear Boss Warlock:


As a native Midwesterner, I know that it's wrong to buy rhubarb, but—in a moment of weakness—I actually did. From a store, no less.

Now my guilt over what I've done is crushing me. Please, what can I do to get clean of it?

Guilty in Galena


Dear Guilty:

I'm afraid there are some crimes that are beyond even Boss Warlock's power to forgive.

By your own admission, you bought—actually paid money for—rhubarb, knowing that what you were doing was wrong. The fact is, there's no way that you can get clean of a crime of such magnitude. Basically, Guilty, you're screwed.

(For the benefit of the non-Midwesterners among us, let me explain that Guilty—by his own admission—has violated one of the prime taboos of Midwestern culture. Every Midwesterner is born knowing that you never buy rhubarb. As a proper Midwesterner, you should have your own clump, growing out by the back door. Even if you can't grow your own—say you're a renter somewhere—you should be able to get your rhubarb from friends or relatives who, of course, have their own clumps growing out by the back door.)

No, Guilty, by violating this taboo, you have laid yourself open to the Curse. For the next twelve months, you will be buried in rhubarb. Once word gets out—and, believe me, I've already hacked into your account and let every single one of your contacts know—everyone within three degrees of separation will be giving you rhubarb. In fact, I've already over-nighted you some from my own garden. Expect it by tomorrow.

Here's your only hope, Guilty: get your butt over to somebody's house and get a plug from their rhubarb. (No, for gods' sakes, don't go to a lawn center and buy a plug! What are you, suicidal?!)

Then plant it by your back door like a proper Midwesterner, and—for the coming year—gird up your loins and take your punishment like a grown-up. You can't say that you don't deserve it.


Boss Warlock


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Katie
    Katie Monday, 03 May 2021

    Dear Boss Warlock,

    Oh, dear! I must be truly cursed... over the years past, I have bought Rhubarb because the clump in my back yard DIED, never growing big enough to produce nice, edible stalks.

    Admittedly, I am a (long ago) transplant myself, like the Rhubarb was.

    Worried in Minneapolis

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 03 May 2021

    Sorry, Transplant, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Prepare to be inundated.
    You may want to check out my new book, 1303 Things to Do With Rhubarb. Did you know that it can remove tarnish from anything?

  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz Monday, 03 May 2021

    I had two impressive plants in the garden down by the river for many years -- chunks from a friends yard, of course. I expected them to be there forever until the flood of 2018 put them under several feet of water. One is struggling back, so this spring I will give it some compost and good wishes and I bet it will impress me again next year.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Tuesday, 04 May 2021

    One of my plants didn't make it through the winter, either.
    If this is an omen, i wonder what it means.

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