Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
I missed Columbus Day. It snuck right past me. Were there no celebrations? Or am I getting foggy? Actually, Columbus Day is not as big on my agenda as the trio of upcoming special days, each of which is scary in its own way: Halloween, Guy Fawkes Day, Election Day. They won’t sneak past me.
Columbus Day celebrates the discovery of America as though this were a major accomplishment. It seems to me that if anyone in Europe got into a boat and sailed west, they couldn’t help but discover America – they’d bump right into it. And the misconceptions about Columbus abound. He didn’t discover America as in the U.S. of A; he discovered an island in the Bahamas that doesn’t celebrate Columbus Day. And we were always told that, as a boy, little Christopher looked out to sea noticing how all the ships sunk just as they got to the horizon. Eventually, the clever lad decided that, contrary to popular opinion, the world was round. The big lie. Unlike today, when most Republicans do think the world is flat, most Europeans pretty much knew the world was round.
(I’d like to attend a meeting of the Flat Earth Society; I’ll bet they’re well into their schnapps, long before the meeting is called to order. One can only guess at the amazing things they discover.)
Discovering something is not the same as creating it. Discovery is just bumbling around until you bump into something important. Creating is making something important. Thomas Edison created a practical electric light bulb (Did you know he was afraid of the dark? See how my seven important facts work?) Benjamin Franklin merely discovered electricity. It was there waiting to be discovered. Granted, if Ben had simply sat around watching TV, he wouldn’t have discovered electricity. He did have to go out and get wet.
Last weekend I went to a Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast, and I discovered Otello. Giuseppe Verdi, however, created it a long time ago. And during intermission, thanks to a certain need and a suspicion that the world is round, I also discovered the men’s room. Perhaps they’ll name a day after me.