While waiting to judge a hangar full of preserves and 4-H macramé disasters, I watched one of the fairground’s auxiliary police officers sprint past me into the Gallery of Hays. It’s an exhibit designed to cultivate corporate interest in the “development of sturdier grasses for consumption by livestock and, eventually, man.” An eighth grader at Graham Gardner Middle had postulated that if humans would simply practice eating hay, alfalfa, rye, etc. that we could evolve into creatures capable of digesting it effectively. This would not only solve hunger problems but would help us, as a race, to appreciate the dilemma facing livestock, namely “Why should I eat only to be eaten.” The town council thought this idea wonderful and began immediately raising funds to develop grasses which were flavored, textured, and I hope, composed molecularly in fashions more suitable for human tastes. A terribly misinformed gentleman from GreenPeace apparently meant to stop this Anthrocentric abuse of local plant life and the horrifying anti-cow legislation to which it would inevitably lead (according to his attorney). He stormed the Gallery about an hour before it opened, in as much as one man can effectively storm any surplus airforce hangar which is only locked in the dead of winter to protect the hays from freezing (which won’t be necessary if the research is sufficiently funded and the hardier strains take hold).
His method of protest was to induce in himself a crippling case of bloat. He ate every sort of hay available and within about 40 minutes was beginning to cramp as well as experience vivid auditory and visual hallucinations. The pain in his stomach and the horrors in his ears (choir boys telling him to graze less fitfully) and eyes (those same choirboys directing him to the podium, so he could deliver his grand elocution) continued until the authority rendered him cooperative. Senor greenpeace staggered into the ceremonial Hog Trough of World Alliance with grasses of every description extending from nooks and crannies of every description. The sight of this man, regally bloated, a purple mountain majesty in Birkenstocks, every portal of his body filled with the eager faces of tommorrow’s hay, the end of world hunger and the evolution of milk cows into productive members of our no longer agrarian society, nearly overtook me. With the last of my resolve overcoming my concern for this man’s safety or dignity, I asked him about the emerald city, Dorothy, and offered my support in the form of a shouted epiphany and whistle stop rendition of “If I only had a brain.”
The blue ribbon went, incidentally, to a young Karen Morphus, for her macaroni recreation of Mad Mable’s, a brothel in Durango during the mid 19th century, complete with rotini staircases and prairie doves of ricotta and vermicelli.