Food Fight

Friends, it be July 5th, International Don't Drink Pee Day. (The things that are important to Tracy Lynn….)

By the way, I cannot figure out how I wrote a Patriotic Movie List and did not include SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or GLORY. It is simply inexcusable of me, and if you want to hate me forever, I would understand.

Continuing from yesterday, we have part 2 of our history of American War (a Fairy Tale). I thought about spending a few hours and punching these columns up, to reflect whatever small ability I have gained in the last six years, but somehow it seems wrong to mess with history. (Even as those who teach history continually mess with us.) In my mind the second half is not as funny as the first half, but in my defense when I wrote it I honestly thought it would be the last column I ever wrote. Also, I would not have written the ending so glibly if we had been in an actual shooting war like we are now. Still, much humor here, I think. I hope you enjoy.

Read Part 1

#68 America at War, a Fairy Tale Part 2

Now we continue our looks at America's wartime history. As before, the following should be read aloud.

Well, long about 1898, America decided it had enough money, and we were now a World Player. Of course, the best way to show our newfound strength was to put on a little war. But who to fight? We'd made our peace with the Brits, and after getting stuck with Texas in the war with Mexico, we weren't looking to tangle with those folk again. Then, Bill "I'm not a drunken Irishman" McKinley, who happened to be president then (if you were keeping score at home), looked at a map. Low and behold, there was a country right next to Florida! "What is that island doing there?" McKinley asked his aides. The consensus was that "Cuba," as the so-called island was named, had been moved there in 1896 by Spain. "By Gar, we're not going to let them get away with it!" McKinley bellowed.

The problem was, most of America was busy working and making more money then they'd ever had (except those kids, who kept getting the raw deal), and America didn't really want to go to war right then. So McKinley sent Orson Welles down to Cuba to get some photographs of Cubans being treated badly. (On a side note, later, William Randolph Hearst made a movie about Orson Welles's life called Citizen Abel) Anyway, Welles sent back pictures of poor Cubans forced to wear yellow jumpsuits (this is where the term "Yellow Journalism" comes from). America was incensed, but not mad enough to go to war. Then the U.S.S. Maine blew up, and that was all America needed. They were ready to rumble.

The problem was that Spain didn't blow up the Maine. The Maine blew up from a cannon ball that was shot from the inside of the ship. Spain had nothing to do with it, and they wanted nothing to do with this war. You may remember that Spain was once a World Power, gallivanting around the globe, discovering new lands, enslaving the native peoples; the same kind of stuff your local Rotary Club does. Then Spain went up against England in 1588 in the World Series of war, which was then called the Armada. Spain got beat like a red-headed stepchild and decided to quit the world domination game, become a third-rate power, have plenty of siestas, and become massively drunk.

They were doing a nice job too until America forced them into our Third Official War. Spain tried to get out of this war in every way possible. They took out an ad in the NY Times saying "We surrender!" America didn't buy it. Then Spain tried to get out of the war by proving they had nothing to do with the demise of the Maine. "We were with Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory," Spain tried to claim. America said no dice, so we fought the war.

The war turned out pretty nicely for us, culminating with Teddy "I'm not cute, I'm tough!" Roosevelt and his motorcycle gang called the Easy Riders charging up San Juan Hill. Later Roosevelt would become president, and he tried to get into some more wars, by instituting the policy of "Speak softly and carry anti-ballistic missiles." One of his aides finally told him that the rest of the world was very unlikely to attack someone with missiles, so Teddy changed the policy to "Speak softly and carry a big stick," but the damage was done, and no one would attack us while Roosevelt was president.

America was not long to be at peace, however, for soon war loomed on the European horizon. This was nothing new, of course, since war always loomed on the horizon in Europe, but this time it was different. You see, the leader of Germany was this man named Kaiser, who invented the Kaiser roll. Germany had an exclusive deal with Howard Johnsons' all over the world to serve Kaiser rolls. Then France stuck their snooty heads in, and tried to sell HoJos French bread. Germany couldn't let this stand, and in 1914, at 3:47 p.m., Europe was plunged into World War I.

In contrast to previous times, when America couldn't wait into war, this time we were skeptical. Both Kaiser rolls and French bread were popular in the States, and no one wanted to take sides. Woodrow "Quit making fun of my first name, I'm president" Wilson, who was president then, did want to go to war, but he had to run for re-election in 1916. Wilson wanted to win this election, so he came up with the slogan "Make sand castles, not war." It was later pointed out to Woody that "Make love, not war" would have been a more appealing slogan, but Wilson managed to win anyway.

As soon as Wilson won re-election, he announced America was going into its Fourth Official War. Soldiers were drafted, and of course this was all done fairly, without playing favorites. Ha ha! Just kidding. As always, the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free were sent to Europe first. At least the men were. The Army had the idea then that women weren't suited to fight, so they got to stay home. If you ask me, the War Department had obviously never seen two seventh grade girls fighting over the same boy, but then again, no one apparently asked me.

Anyway, our soldiers, who were called Doughboys (because the war was about bread), were sent to liberate France. Rescuing Frenchmen was not a wildly popular idea, but the Doughboys were told the French women would be thrown in, and in no time the war was over, and everything was back to normal. (Except in Europe, where millions died or were displaced, but you can't have everything).

Soon it was the 1930s, and war began to loom ominously again in Europe. Once again it was those agitators the Germans, but this time they were led by a failed painter named Adolph "I'm not going to pay a lot for this muffler" Hitler. At that time our president was Franklin "My wife's a lesbian and I'm a cripple; please pity me" Roosevelt and he was itching to get into war. However, no one was fond of rescuing the cursed Frenchmen a second time, so Roosevelt had his work cut out for him. Luckily a Japanese General slapped an American woman named Pearl Harbor, and this incensed the public enough that Roosevelt could safely lead us into our Fifth Official War.

WWII was a blight on humanity, with not much funny to say about it. I'll confine my attempts at humor to reprinting a quote I heard from my chiropractor about Adolph Hitler. He didn't cause all the trouble, but enough of it. My chiropractor said

"If that man had been under chiropractic care, he probably wouldn't be such a mean person and would have had a better life."

In other words, the whole war happened because some people had bad backs and didn't know what to do about it. Never fear, though; soon we were on to another conflict, set in a small town called Korea.

Harry "my middle name is none of your damn business" Truman led us in this fun war. I know this was a fun war because Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, and a host of other fun-loving people were there. Hey: any war with a cross-dresser has to be a good time, right? If you were counting, you will notice that WWII was our 5th and last official war. Korea marked the first act of a new conflict, which was called the Cold War. It was called such because the battle was over one of the most contentious issues of the 20th Century. You guessed it: cold beer. You see, America helped defeat Germany in WWII in part because Germany had a stranglehold on all the good beer. With Germany out of the picture, it was left to America and Russia to fight over who controlled the beer market. Korea was the first place where this food battle turned into a fight, between the "Tastes Great" crowd and the "Less Filling" bunch. Korea was called a "Police Action" because of course we couldn't let young Koreans drink until they were 21, and so referees were needed.

Korea didn't turn out so well (the kindest thing you could say was that it was a tie) and that's another reason we didn't call Korea a war: we didn't want to blemish our 5-0 record. Even with this minor setback, though, we thought we'd try another "Police Action" in Vietnam.

Foreign Policy this time was under the "Domino Theory." What this meant was that along with the cold beer market, the U.S. wanted to dominate the pizza market too. After all, what goes better with cold beer than pizza? (By the way, if you'll notice you'll see that every major conflict in the 20th Century had something to do with food. Think of the implications)

But Vietnam would not prove to be an easy victory either. First of all, most of the Vietnamese preferred to wok their dog than to partake in pizza and cold beer, and so they fought us tooth and nail. More importantly, young people across America found out we were sending the pizza and beer to Asia and they rose up as one voice and said "Dude, don't take our pizza and beer!"

Richard "I use Vaseline on my teeth to make my smile bigger" Nixon had inherited Vietnam from Lyndon "LBJ" Johnson. Johnson had faired equally poorly with our nation's youth, and had gone back to Texas to shoot illegal immigrants. Nixon tried to reason with America's youth, to get them to accept tea and crumpets, but the kids pointed out that was what Britain did, and we didn't really want to go down that path.

Anyway, Nixon pulled our pizza and beer from Vietnam and after that the Cold War consisted mainly of both sides saying "Neener, neener!" to each other. This ended when Ronald "I'm too cool to need a nickname" Reagan came into power. He reinstituted the Arms Race. This, of course, consisted in contests to see which country's arm could open the beer bottle first. Reagan then upped the ante by threatening to build STAR WARS, which was a plan to have a Death-Star sized cooler to keep all of our beer. After that, Russia knew they couldn't keep up, so they decided to switch to vodka and beg us for money, like any good fraternity brother.

Since then we've had various conflicts, none big enough to be called wars. We've gone to Grenada, Panama, and had a video game battle in the Persian Gulf, which was sponsored by CNN and Nintendo. Under Clinton we had a war with our conscience, but that's another story.

Well, I hoped you learned something. Now you can say you're an expert on America's war history. I'd also like to add that all of the facts in this column were checked and double-checked by the law firm of Dewey, Cheetum, and Howe. So you can be confident telling all of your friends. After all, would I lie to you?

October 18, 2001

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