Happy Columbus Day, everyone!
Christopher Columbus is now best known as a genocidal maniac, but I still have a bit of nostalgia for my childhood memory of Columbus as a bumbling idiot who miscalculated the size of the earth and set out on a death voyage, but lucked into a whole new continent and never really figured out where he was.
In honor of “Children’s Columbus,” the harmless buffoon of my childhood, here are some other great Columbuses of history.
Discoverer of the moon
Michael Columbins was a spaceman (technically an “astronaut captain”) who thought he had found a shortcut to Mars, but ended up crashing into the moon (which he had thought was just a decoration in the sky) and blowing himself to smithereens. His last thought before hitting the moon was “if I find any moonmen in this moon I shall call them Martians.”
Columbins’ crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were later inspired to go to the moon to collect his smithereens and give him a proper burial in space, leading to the first successful moon mission. In this way he was a great pioneer.
Discoverer of the colon
The organ now known as the colon is named for Cristóbal Colón, who postulated that there was a faster route to the stomach via the anus, and thought he would revolutionize nutrition with a quicker, more efficient feeding process. He miscalculated by 25 feet of intestines, but did discover the sigmoid colon just past the rectum, which he thought was the “lower stomach.” He mocked his contemporaries mercilessly for consuming their food “the long way,” flaunting the fact that he was able to talk while eating whereas they couldn’t because their stupid mouths were full of food. Colón died of malnutrition after several weeks of stuffing his colon with corn and potatoes and believing he was receiving his full daily value of calories and vitamins.
It turned out that humans had known about the digestive system for millennia before Colón’s “discovery,” but impressively he somehow had access to New World foods like corn, potatoes, beans, and tomatoes long before the rest of Eurasia. Ironically these foods were actually pretty delicious when consumed by mouth, a fact he never discovered during his lifetime.
Discoverer of heaven
Christ-o-pher Columbus was, like Michael Columbins, a spaceman attempting to find a route to Mars, but he lived centuries earlier and attempted to reach the planet via a hang-glider-like flying machine, crashing by mistake into Heaven. Returning to Earth, he advertised himself as the one true path to the kingdom come, offering guided voyages and maintaining his monopoly by a vicious pattern of dirty tricks, from illegal sabotage to legally exploitative patent trolling. Despite these anti-competitive practices, he was hailed by free market zealots as a brilliant entrepreneur.
Christopher Column Bus
Discoverer of both the column and the bus
Everybody knows this story already.
George Washington Carver
Popularizer of the peanut
George Washington Carver was a truly impressive environmentalist, agriculturalist, and educational pioneer, but most of his accomplishments were overshadowed by his quixotic quest to carve up George Washington and eat him, which led him on his hunt for the perfect side dish to accompany hand-cut slices of light and dark meat from the 6’2” Virginian. Carver landed on the peanut, finding 108 different preparations of the legume that would go well with Carved Washington, but never acquired the main course for his meal. Nonetheless, he’s widely considered to be pretty damn good, rare for a Columbus.
Discoverer of Ohio
The founders of Columbus, Ohio set out west from the state of Pennsylvania believing they’d found a faster route to the middle of fucking nowhere, but discovered an entire state of which they were the capital, complete with one of the largest universities in the United States and bustling research, chemical, and aeronautics industries, but somehow still achieving their goal of being in the middle of fucking nowhere at the same time.
Discoverer of immortality in the form of ignominy
Toward the end of his life, Christopher Columbus was deeply ashamed of his horrific atrocities, but assumed that over the centuries it would “blow over” and that his name would be lost to history. More than two centuries after his death, after thinking he was “getting away with it” and getting overshadowed both by more legit explorers like Amerigo Vespucci and John Cabot (inventor of Cabot cheddar), he soon found his name being canonized by the founders of a new monster-country, and a deep feeling of dread grew in his stomach as people started paying more attention to him in the relatively quiet corner of hell where he was being tortured. For a couple more centuries he was still hailed as a hero, but his proud smile was a facade. He knew that, under enough light, his glorified shell would eventually crumble. He is credited in hell as being a pioneer in discovering there are worse things than being forgotten.