Well, Monday is Columbus Day, and Tuesday is my birthday, and Iím stuck in that same old muck yet again.

I think Congress should do something useful just for once, and move Columbus Day to July or something. That would distinguish them in the pages of history. Get it? The pages of history?

Never mind.

Anyway, itís my eternal curse in life that America celebrates Columbus Day near or about the same time as the world celebrates my birthday. Iíll be 42, by the way, which is not quite old enough to be taken seriously and too old to not know better.

Let this be known, then, as the annual "From the Other Side" Columbus-bashing Column for 2006.

Imagine, just for a moment, if things had worked out differently. What if Columbus hadnít gotten hopelessly lost and very nervous about his men stringing him up on a yardarm? What if, instead, Columbus had sailed smack dab around South America and ended up where he intended in the first place, the Orient?

Certainly someone would have seen them and reported it back to the Chief.

"Biggest dang canoes you ever seen, Chief!" the excited warrior would report after returning from fishing on the coast where he saw the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria pass by. "And they were drying their laundry on sticks stuck down into it!"

The Chief, alarmed by this, sends out word all over both Americas to keep an eye out for the big canoes with the clotheslines built in.

By this time, the Chinese have told Columbus to turn around and go home, because we all know itís rude to visit someone by the back door, unless youíre some kinda undesirable. The Chinese donít take well to bad manners.

So Columbus is sailing back and decides to stop in on that land mass he saw on the way over.

But the Indians are ready for him, and when he comes ashore showering them with beads and other trinkets, they give him laundry soap and tell him to come back again soon.

Columbus is badly insulted and goes home, but reports everything to Isabella, who promptly throws him in a dungeon believing he is a lunatic.

Itís not until 1845 that any such voyage is attempted again because Europe was so badly scared by the Chinese who told Columbus, "You come to the front door next time or weíll put gunpowder in your pretty white wigs and light a match," and this time the voyage is made by Mark Twain, who was born in southern England instead of America.

Twain endears the Indians with so many colorful and hilarious stories they made him an honorary Indian, which is fine by Twain, because heís gotten sick of porridge and Yorkshire pudding, finding maize, beans and tomatoes much more to his liking.

He has, in fact, journeyed across most of North America during his visit, where he is introduced to huckleberries in Montana, except that itís not called North America or Montana. Twain names the continent Huckleberria, and Montana becomes Huckle Haven. Caring not a wit for gold or such other nonsense as Columbus and his men would have, Twain takes a shipment of huckleberries back to England, where they are planted and become Europeís number one cash crop. The later trading of chocolate with South Huckleberriaís Aztec civilization gives rise to the candy bar, which in turn leads to the breakfast bar, which eventually fades from the history books because granola never really catches on.

Twain ends up writing two fantastic books about his adventures here, Huckleberry Inn, about a fantastic lodge he founded overlooking the Potomac River near where the United States Capital would have stood, and Tom Farmer, about a young lad who rebels against his idyllic lifestyle and runs off to live with the Germans in Berlin. Young Tom later becomes a wealthy entrepreneur who makes a fortune buying and selling gold and jewels which were eventually discovered in Greece, an English territory.

By the year 2006, Huckleberria has become the center of the civilized world where there is almost no urban development, the Indians are not called Indians of course because Twain never thought he was in the Indies and Louisiana is called The Land of Great Cypress Trees, because Napoleon never came here and the subsequent deforestation of our area never happened.

The Chitimacha Nation is of course in charge of The Land of Great Cypress Trees, being the logical choice for good government and prosperity.

See what we missed because Columbus got lost and crashed ashore in Hispanolia?

What might have been. Donít dwell on it too much. Itíll just depress you.