TERRE HAUTE, Indiana. It’s a cool autumn Saturday in this town of 60,000 near the eastern border of Illinois, perfect conditions as far as Dan Pfeiffer is concerned. “If this keeps up, we’ll get some good nipple definition in the swimsuit competition, and that means press photos get picked up by wire services,” such as the Associated Press, he says. “We want the world to turn their eyes to our greatest natural resource–flatness.”
International Flatness Products manufacturing plant, Terre Haute.
Pfeiffer is Executive Director of the “Festival of Flatness,” a three-day event sponsored by a consortium of the ten flattest states in America, who struggle to overcome the stigma that “flat equals boring,” as he puts it. “There’s a lot to see and do here,” he says. “We have a slot car track and several bowling alleys that allow us to showcase our world-class flatness.”
Mountainous region outside Terre Haute.
Contrary to popular belief, Indiana is only the tenth-flattest state in America, with Florida currently occupying the number one spot until the next massive sinkhole opens up there. “Illinois is far flatter than us,” Pfeiffer says of the Land of Lincoln, which currently occupies the number two spot in the A.P. and Coaches Polls of flatness. “But you never hear people making flat jokes about them because they have other attractive features like political corruption and a high murder rate.”
Florida sinkhole: “We’re gonna fall to number 2 because of this!”
Flatness exports have fallen here due to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in retaliation for government subsidies used by third-world countries to flood U.S. markets with steep inclines, such as those found in Himalayan mountains along the Chinese-Nepal border. “The world envies the flatness of the U.S.,” says Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce Neil Egan. “People in underdeveloped nations are skinny because food keeps rolling off their tables.”
Miss Junior Flatness-Nevada.
With the talent portion of the National Miss Flatness Pageant completed, contestants scurry into dressing rooms to change for the swimsuit competition, and Evelyn Reibold, official chaperone for the event, casts a gimlet eye over the young ladies as the don their conservative one-piece suits. Her attention is caught by Missy Urquart, a 19-year-old from Atchison, Kansas who is coming off a high-scoring performance in which she twirled a baton while singing “This is My Country!” and gargling. Reibold does a double-take as she eyes Urquart’s suit, then moves in swiftly for a hands-on inspection.
“What are these?” she snaps as she pats down Urquart’s breasts, then rips illegal foam padding out of her brassiere cups.
“I was just,” Urquart begins nervously, but Reibold cuts her off.
“Young lady, you’re disqualified!”