A True Reason For Celebration: Columbus Day
Having a weekly column in a newspaper sounds fun and exciting, but it also presents the recipient with some major challenges, most notably that the writer now has to come up with something to say every single week. This column has had a profound effect on my life in that I now have to begrudgingly leave my room once in a while to see interesting things, since the super spy camera system I tried getting installed in Warren Towers was deemed "unconstitutional" and "morally reprehensible."
Thankfully, I did not have to leave my room for this week's column topic, however. I had a minor battle with the Demon Insomnia, who plagued me for four straight days earlier this week. During one of these restless nights of wandering aimlessly about my room, I stumbled into my wall and came upon my topic.
Cleverly glancing at my wall calendar, I realized that by being the Friday columnist, I have the fortuitous position of being able to write about most major holidays. And with Columbus Day being one of the two holidays Boston University actually recognizes, I decided to give it a go.
Of all the major American holidays, Columbus Day is perhaps the most accessible and universally celebrated. This is because everyone knows at least one Chris Columbus.
Now when I say "Chris Columbus," I am not referring to the director of such films as "Home Alone 2: Lost In New York" and "Nine Months," although he certainly does fit my criteria for that title.
A Chris Columbus is someone who receives an exorbitant amount of credit, fame, or personal gain without making the necessary effort to achieve it. We all know someone like this. And for each Chris Columbus aimlessly wandering around the Caribbean eating coconuts and incorrectly naming things, there's an exasperated Leif Ericson behind him, who did all the hard work and still came up with only a passing mention in select history books.
The scene is somewhat reminiscent of the "Goofus and Gallant" cartoons of yore, which taught me oh so many moral lessons… with the distinct difference that Gallant would be wearing a pointy Viking hat and Goofus would be wearing tights and a frock. And even though we all thought Goofus was cooler than the helplessly prudish Gallant before, none of us wanted to follow his actions because of the heinous fates he always suffered, like falling down the stairs after tripping on the roller skates he didn't put away, sleeping late or waking up after sleeping late only to trip on his roller skates and fall down the stairs. The difference now would be that "Highlights" readers would aspire to be like Chris Columbus. Consider for a moment the following classroom scene:
Leif sits in the front row, diligently taking page upon page of notes. He attends every discussion section, engaging the TF with questions that lead to active class discussions. Sure, no one in the class really likes him, but they all respect the amount of work and effort he's putting in. Leif will end up failing the class and losing his scholarship, and he'll spend the rest of his life at home in Greenland. Children will laugh at him when he tells his crazy stories of a "land beyond the sea," and the village idiot will hand him down his mud-soaked potato sack.
Chris sits in the back row by the window if he even comes at all. He spends the entire lecture doodling in his notebook or playing "Snake" on the cell phone his rich aunt Isabella bought him. If he attends discussions, it's because he accidentally stumbled through the doorway while looking for a vending machine. He will get a 98 on the next test; will wake up the next morning to find he's been cast in a play he didn't even know about, has received a complimentary personal maid service from Boston University, a new car and to top it all off, has found a dollar in his coat pocket.
Look around you. You know that guy who sits behind you in class, sleeps through every lecture and doesn't read any books, yet still manages to get an A for the class? Look closely, dear reader, for that gentleman is Chris Columbus incarnate. And now you know why he keeps bumping into that table and calling it Indonesia.
So this Monday, take some time out and celebrate our modern Chris Columbi. Refer to them as "Pinta" without any explanation and thank them for introducing the potato to the Old World. And if you're feeling especially cryptic, inform your Columbus that they'll only get a city in Ohio and a narcotic-filled jungle nation named after them, while a mysterious man named "Amerigo" will get all the really important places.