Hail the Conqueror
October 24, 2008
By Roger Emile Stouff
Well, Norway was a bust. Too stinking cold.
I really need to conquer something. I’m thinking Connecticut. No, really, think about it: Awesome fall colors, great trout fishing and the most successful Indian gaming facility in the country, and there’s only 700 or so Pequots, who own the casino. It could be my "summer home."
In the old days in Europe, you didn’t become a man until you went out and conquered something, even if it was your neighbor’s chicken yard. Here in the Americas, we called it counting coup wherein it was a braver thing to touch your enemy and escape than to kill him. If you happened to grab his wife on the way out, more’s the better.
But yeah, I need to conquer something. I got this vengeance thing going on, beings as Columbus gets so much notoriety. Throw Cortez into the mix and you can see how it’s hard to measure up as an indigenous person. Cortez, for example, defeated several hundred thousand Aztec with 600 Spaniards by pretending to be a half snake, half bird. You gotta admire that kind of deviousness.
I think Connecticut’s a little far, and too cold, like Norway. Maybe New York. But like Bogart told the Nazi major in Casablanca, "There are certain areas of New York, Major, I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade." So skip the Big Apple.
Dangit, what’s an aspiring conqueror to do these days? It’s not like you can go see Ferdinand and Isabella and get a few ships and some financing, sub-prime or not. I’d have to go to a bank.
"Hi, Mr. Stouff, how can I help you today?"
"I’d like to make a loan, please."
"Well, let’s fill out an application. How much are you interested in borrowing?"
"Sixteen million? And the purpose of this loan is for…?"
"I want to conquer Denver."
"Denver? You want to conquer Denver?"
"That’s right. It’s not going to be cheap, but the rewards are significant."
"Mr. Stouff, I’m sorry, there’s no way we can loan you sixteen million dollars to…conquer… Denver."
"Well…uhm…" (obviously searching for an "out" from the whack-job) "…says here your credit may not be up to snuff."
"It’s terrible. But I have collateral."
"Yup, after I conquer it. Denver’s got to be worth at least sixteen million, though personally, I wouldn’t give you a plug nickel for the whole kit and kaboodle. It’s the park I’m interested in."
"Yes. Rocky Mountain National Park. Excellent fishing."
"Please sir, I’m sorry, we just can’t authorize a loan of that size for that purpose."
"Listen, this could work. I just want to park. It’d be a staging area, Denver would. I’ll sell it soon as I get the park conquered, and then I’ll be done with the whole sordid business. I’ll sell Denver back to Colorado and keep the park. You’ll get every penny of your money back, with interest."
Where, o where, are rich, imperialistic kings and queens when you need them, anyway?
Some days it’s a good day to die, some days it’s a good day to go conquer something.
Baldwin. Maybe I’ll conquer Baldwin. Small, peaceful, nice place to live, good water. Or Centerville, same principle features.
Just kiddin’ gang. It’s more fun to go conquer far off, anyway. See more scenery that way.
Conquerors get no love these days, you see. Thanks to people like myself, people like Columbus, and Cortez, and Alvarado get bad raps. We pick at ‘em too much. Now, Genghis Khan, that was a conqueror, ladies and gents. I am, of course, descended of Gengie’s people, you know, so you better mind your manners!
See, the best thing Moctezuma could have done when Cortez and his merry-band-of-men-in-tights came a’ sailin’ a’shore, was kick him in his fluffy-pants behind and send him back to Spain with a bruise. But no. Moctezuma, obviously suffering from chewing too many coca leaves, hallucinated, and thought Cortez was Quetzalcoatl, the white-bearded god who was in the form of a feathered serpent, and had been banished to the east in ages past. Aztec legend had it that when Quetzalcoatl returned, the empire would end. Moctezuma, therefore, fell for the slick advertising, the same way we get convinced to buy fast food. Cortez, it logically follows, was not a conqueror at all, but a con-artist and should have been sacrificed on an altar for impersonating a deity.
By the time the Spaniard’s got to the Americas and their search for gold continued, word had spread of the Conquistadors’ strange lust for the yellow metal. The Indians, being not as dumb as high school text books would have you believe, would, as soon as the Spaniards arrived in the village and began inquiring about gold, say, "Little farther." Pointing west, they’d say, "Little farther, little farther."
Eventually, the conqueror’s hit the Pacific Ocean, looked around at each other and suddenly felt very, very stupid.
Now that’s slick advertising.