Well, here it is. Today is the day we celebrate Columbus Day, although it’s actually one day later than the actual date on which Christopher Columbus was falsely credited with “discovering” America. Of course, in order to give some of us an extra day off per year, we have to conveniently ignore (or at the most honest, set aside) the one big, overriding question: How can anyone “discover” a land in which other people are already living, indeed in a thriving civilization? It would be like me driving several hours northwest and “discovering” Las Vegas. (Actually, as it turned out, it would be almost exactly like that.)
I can just see Chris and his crew struggling ashore in those funny, vertically striped balloon pants and frilly shirts and waistcoats through waist-deep waves. Then, once the camera crew was safely ensconced at just the right distance and angle from the “discoverer” and the sun was in just the right position, Chris himself planted a flag on only the fourth try, having been thwarted by inconveniently placed hard-shell clams twice and a conch shell the third time, and proclaimed something formal sounding like, “I hereby claim this new land for Queen Isabella of Spain, who truly is a massively groovy chick and a major sugar-mama.”
At that point, a small contingent of natives, who had been watching these curious goings on for the past few hours, managed to curtail their laugher long enough to step out of the brush, wave and say, “Um, helloooo. We were here first. However, welcome to our humble land. Um, you didn’t bring any diseases or anything like that with you, did you?” But that’s a story for another day.
Doesn’t really matter to me, but as a working writer with manuscripts in the mail, I’d really like someone to explain why I have to forfeit mail delivery one day a year just because some late-15th century Portuguese shyster was able to sweet talk Queen Isabella into outfitting him for such a trip. In the first place, how does suspending mail delivery somehow slap a celebratory aura over the nation?
(Groan… I know, I know… mail delivery is suspended so the employees of the US Postal Service get to celebrate as well. After all, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria carried the first transatlantic mail from Europe to what would eventually become the United States—well, a group of islands somewhere south of the United States—a fact that, by comparison, makes today’s mail delivery seem fast, sort of. So I’m just sayin’, US Postal Service employees have more reason to celebrate than the rest of us do, maybe. But back to the basic problem and what caused it.)
Maybe ol’ Chris talked ‘Bella into outfitting him for the trip, but then again, maybe not. Maybe men and women being what they are regardless of their station in life, and human nature being what it is (with heavy emphasis on “nature”), maybe he talked her out of considerably more than ships, stores and crew. Maybe he sidled up next to her ear, all warm-breathed and stuff, and mumbled something like, “Have you ever considered whisper whisper whisper whisper?” to which she responded by blushing, wrist-flicking her fan open and muttering, “Well, certainly not ’til now, you silver-tongued devil you!” and off they went.
Then, the following morning, having been thoroughly and irrevocably disappointed, she quickly responded in the affirmative to his much more formal, public request, provided him with the aforementioned ships, stores and crew, and bade him a hasty farewell to get him the heck out of the kingdom before the gossip rags of the day interviewed one of the chamber wenches and reported the late-night goings on.
Then again, I could be wrong.
Anyway, as long as I have to wait until tomorrow to see whether I’ll get another check in the mail or my new glasses or whatever, I suppose you might as well enjoy the day.
Happy Columbus Day
El Harvey de Mucho