When early European explorers first landed on the shores of what we now call America, they knelt and gave thanks to the Lord for leading them to this amazing Eden.
The clear streams and forestland seemed to go on forever. A day’s walk was barely perceptible on the colonial “stroll bars” that indicated one’s progress through a new territory (similar to the scroll bar on a computer today).
“It’s bigger than Luxembourg,” they reported to the astonished folks at home, but you know how folks are: it was necessary to establish the actual square footage of this most generous gift. This was a challenge, because pacing it off, even with frequent beer breaks, quickly grew tiresome, and they had no immigrant labor to put in the long hours.
So they devised an ingenious device for traveling long distances. This was known as the railroad, a system of steel tracks that accommodated a rolling, belching contraption they called a locomotive. By loading themselves and their possessions into cars that were towed by such a locomotive (Latin for “crazy intentions”), they could easily reach the farthest shores of the vast land, which was populated (in a people sense) only by friendly and colorful natives who met them at every stop, bearing little bags of coupons and diapers and other materials to welcome them to the neighborhood.
But there was one problem with their exploration.
These days it may be hard to imagine, but in the 1500s, cows roamed the plains with such dominating force that early settlers could not find an acre to call their own. Native Americans had a pragmatic way of dealing with these swaggering brutes: protection money. They offered small bright beads, known as wampum, thereby fixing the cattle in a provider-client relationship. Annoyingly, this meant pretending that “the cow [as customer] is always right,” but the cows soon had an unspoken dependency on the people. Thus was peace achieved.
The European population had nothing so alluring as wampum, or at least they lacked the marketing skills to create the illusion thereof. So after repeated railroad forays into the incipient nation’s heartland, they determined that getting rid of the cows was the only way to forge what they had already begun to think of as “our country ’tis of thee.”
But how to get rid of the cows? They were everywhere! The whole country was like Grand Central Station on Thanksgiving, with severe flatulence. Many of us can sympathize all too keenly.
These brave pilgrims did not lose heart. Remembering that Galileo’s mind would soon spring from European stock, they knew they were capable of outsmarting the wicked beasts. What if they were somehow to trap the cows, to lure them into pens and thus control them? Perhaps, with time, even to breed a square cow for more convenient packing and shipping?
A snap trap, as was used on squirrels and anteaters, obviously would not do the job. Simon Pierce was flogged for this stupid suggestion (still, several streets were named after him in the cities of the new nation). Finally, forging Yankee ingenuity as a byproduct, the industrious invaders came up with the simple but marvelous contraption we now see on every Sunday drive in the country.
It took only a narrow ramp, leading into a pit of Fritos, to conquer the cow and bring into being the United States of America. It was merely a matter of time before the entire world was well under our control.