John Y. Brown, III: Columbus Day

If GPS’s had existed in the late 15th century, America may never have been discovered. Unless it was during a long “recalculating” message.

Today we celebrate the life of Christopher Columbus who sort of “discovered” America.  But, let’s be real, Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 in much the same way I “discovered” Indis restaurant at age 16 in downtown Louisville after I couldn’t… find McDonalds.

Columbus was an adventurous explorer sponsored by the Queen of Spain who helped supply several cool ships (or at least ships with cool names) and Columbus promised a group he would take them to India where they had great spices.

When I was 16 years old during my first week Central High School I had money in my pocket from the allowance my mom provided and a cool looking red Firebird car. I was adventurous and promised to take a group of other students “off campus” for lunch to the McDonalds on Broadway because we wanted a Big Mac (with “special sauce”).

Columbus got lost, probably because he didn’t have a GPS, and instead landed in America (or at least nearby) and later claimed he “discovered” it all by himself.

Likewise, I got lost since  –like Christopher Columbus– I didn’t have a GPS at the time either, and instead of McDonalds found (i.e. “discovered”) a restaurant called Indi’s, a fast food ethic restaurant with “spicy” food. I parked nearby and we went in and I got barbequed rib tips. And they were delicious. After we got back to school word got out about my new “discovery” and other students wanted to go with me next time. And for my two years at Central I got credit among my friends for “discovering” Indi’s. Of course, I didn’t get to rename it. No need. It was already called Indi’s even though the name had nothing to do with Indians. I still like Indi’s a lot, especially the rib tips.

By contrast, Columbus thought he was in “India” and even named the people he found “Indians.” He eventually ate but didn’t get anything nearly as good as Indi’s barbequed rib tips, I’m guessing. But he did stumble onto what is today a great country. And today we are officially remembering his “discovery.”

So, Happy Columbus Day. And if you don’t know what to do to properly celebrate Columbus Day, may I recommend barbequed rib tips.

And if nothing else, let Columbus Day remind us that even if we find ourselves without a GPS system handy, not to worry. And just go for it, Columbus-like.

Who knows? We may “discover” a new country or at least a cool new ethnic restaurant.


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