I began my testimony before the US Senate by placing an advertising sign from a popular fast food restaurant on a tripod so CSPAN could see it.
It said, “Eat More Chicken” except it was misspelled in their sign, and my obsessive-compulsive disorder did not allow me to knowingly misspell a word without getting the shakes. I had a huge note pasted on it saying “DON’T” right in front of “EAT” and another one correcting the spelling of chicken right after it. The big red block letters of the word served to both change the message and rescue me from charges of collusion with a fast-food giant.
I am an environmental engineer and the only one who knows, the only one with the intelligence to give expert testimony that would save the world. It is scary that it is all on me. I am not that great of a speaker. My supervisors told me to join toastmasters for professional development. I hope I learned enough.
I had a fresh haircut. During the pandemic, I learned how to cut my own hair, except for the partial mullet in the place in back I couldn’t see. I had upgraded my wardrobe, at the advice of management. I was wearing a light brown corduroy sport jacket with patches on the elbows, a thinly striped blue button-down shirt, and a red bow tie with matching green polka dots. I was a snazzy dresser now, except for the stuff people didn’t look at like my blue jeans, running shoes, comfy socks matched on the thickness and not color--- an area of self-expression I refused to compromise. A professional engineer from the waist down but I looked dapper and metrosexual in every other way. I compensated for the slightly unprofessional haircut with what I called hair glue, and what my old hairstylist called “product.” Not a hair would be out of place if you hit me in the head with a hammer. It might even provide some protection. I cut my own hair now because I learned how in the lockdown, and because I was crushing on my beautiful hairstylist too much: her smell, her laugh, her touching me while she washed my hair, her un-bra restrained breasts in my face….. and her parade of men before and after me who got the same treatment was too much to bear. As hurtful as it sounds, I think maybe she wasn’t interested in me and was just making conversation in the hopes of getting a better tip.
“Honored Senators, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you today. I pray that I can persuade you to do the right thing. Our lives may well depend on it.”
It should have been the best of times, but it was the worst of times. It was Charles Dicken's remix with a sour twist. Science had created prosperity, but the stock market had crashed. People were scared. We were being good stewards of the environment, but there was unprecedented carnage from natural disasters like Tsunamis, earthquakes, and tornadoes. People were scared. There was blood on the streets of every major city, and riots were common. I set up another visual aid on another tripod. I had broken myself of the PowerPoint habit when my hero, Steve Jobs said that people who know what they are talking about don’t need PowerPoint.
“This graph shows natural disasters over time. Let me draw your attention to the inflection point where it increases exponentially and is still increasing.”
They looked bored and put out. I had thought about not showing the graph because it was already all over the news. Even a journalist or brain-dead skirt-chasing news anchor could see where the rate suddenly tripled and began its steep ascent. Everyone had a theory, from the prophecies of Nostradamus to government conspiracy for population control, with everything in between.
“What is different about my graph is I can show you something that explains the pattern.”
I put a dot on each increase in the rate of natural disasters.
Everyone has it a little bit right. It is about cows. The fast-food giant I won’t mention by name has sentient cows who want us to eat more chicken. The Hindu religion teaches that cows are sacred. “
I looked at the back of the chamber to see if my special guest had arrived yet.
“The American Indians also had a reservation on a piece of the truth. They would often give thanks after a bison hunt to the bison god for providing for their families.”
“The Greeks had it a little bit right, with the minotaur- as did the ancient Egyptians with their god Apis, with the head of a bull and body of a man.”
One of the senators smirked. Another had taken a magic marker and drawn a baseball and a wood screw on a large piece of paper and held it up. The capital building shook from the high winds of the storm brewing outside.
“Skepticism is understandable, but as I said, hear me out and you will have all the proof you need today.
Everyone had it a little bit wrong too. Cows are not sentient, not individually. Cows, or more specifically, the artiodactyls, the classification that includes bovids, whales, and others are intelligent and sentient as a group. Each cow is like a brain-cell in a biological cloud intelligence that calls itself Apis, like the god of the Egyptians. Apis is highly intelligent as could be expected from a creature that has been alive for over a thousand years. “
I picked out my guest, he was already here, in the gallery, in a big trench coat with a hat. I needed to wrap this up more quickly.
“Consider the minotaur. The minotaur was a less evolved immature Apis, with a much smaller less sophisticated brain, which would explain the violence captured in the myth.”
“Apis doesn’t want you to eat more chicken. More artiodactyls are alive today than at any other point in history. Mankind is no longer the highest life form on earth, it is the artiodactyls: cows, whales, some other hoofed animals. When we raise cows, we are exponentially increasing the brainpower of Apis. The problems with natural disasters started with the invention of the beef synthesizer, which leads to a rapid decline in the number of head of cattle on the planet.”
The beef synthesizer was a machine patterned off of the food synthesizer in the “Star Trek” franchise, the originator of the idea for the iPhone with its communicator. It could make synthetic beef better than the real thing from any organic matter, for cheap. In the future, it was hoped to develop some more foods, but it only did beef.
There was unrest and snickering on the senate floor.
“Apis wants you to eat more cows. You have set up a symbiotic relationship where old brain cells are replaced, new ones are created, and the net number is the same or rising—until you started closing down the cattle-raising industry when people started eating synthetic beef!”
Finally one of the senators interrupted.
“I am sorry, I forgot my tinfoil hat today so I don’t quite follow you. For the sake of argument, can you please tell me how a bunch of angry cows can make a tidal wave or a tornado?”
I took a deep breath.
“I will give you a layman’s explanation. Consider chaos theory. A hurricane in Florida can start out as the flapping of the wings of a butterfly on the coast of Africa. There are 4 billion cows spread throughout the globe, an unknown number of whales, and other parts of Apis’s distributed brain cloud. It is entirely plausible to me that an ancient intelligence with a global presence, its own biological world wide web could orchestrate this through choreographed movements of itself.”
There were snickering and laughter.
“Don’t take my word for it though. It is now time to introduce my special guest. Apis, would you please come forward.”
The presence in the gallery arose, shedding the hat and clothes. There stood what was in appearance a large, naked hairy muscular biped, but with the head of a bull.
Security rushed forward.
“I mean you know harm,” said Apis in a clear articulate voice. If Apis's head and body hair were that of a black Scottish highlander, with his long hair covering his eyes and thankfully clothing his naughty bits.
“It’s a mask and a trick!” shouted a senator.
Apis was upfront now and turned to a senator in the front row.
Apis turned to the security guard. “Please. I am an herbivore. Lower your weapon. I mean you know harm.”
“I’ll allow it,” said the majority leader, who happened to be furthest away from Apis.
“Senator Finklestein, please, touch my face, prove to your skeptical colleague that this is indeed my face and not an elaborate ruse, or a mask.” The Senator reached out to satisfy himself. Apis said
"Perhaps you want to milk me."
"Your female?" said the astonished Senator.
"Of course! Why would you assume I was male. Especially you, senator. I do watch cable news. You have a thing for the ladies and..milking."
Apis began his prepared remarks.
“Please, don’t eat more chicken!” said Apis. She went on to describe how they were killing her enormous brain by reducing the number of stock.
"Do you have a funeral every time you lose skins cells or get a haircut? That is what a single death of a mature cow is to my consciousness."
Then Apis signaled me and I got the service people to wheel out the big screen TV, the presentation monitor.
"I know many of you are skeptical. Please watch the monitor for a demonstration."
My friend at the news network had a camera in the penthouse of a casino in Atlantic City trained at the shore. It was a beautiful sunny day there. Suddenly, on the horizon, a whale could be seen to jump. There were now ten whales, jumping with synchronicity. In almost no time at all, whales were jumping with synchronicity. A huge wave formed seemingly out of nowhere, from the constructive interference of the many leviathans, creating a large wave, 40 feet high that scattered the beachgoers, and smashed the boardwalk in front of the casino.
I had a strange mental distraction, as in my youth I used to work as a lifeguard on the Jersey shore. Even while watching the carnage I could see that several of my younger replacements had rowed lifeboats out to see the whales, and were now surfing the wave in the boat, on the stern sheet steering with an oar, have the time of their lives--except for the carnage. One must enjoy the little things.
"That is just a small scale demonstration."
Thus it all began. PETA didn't close its doors but reinvigorated the Egyptian worship of Apis.
I wish I could say it was my speaking ability that saved the day, but it was all bull.