The Three Fs of the American Mind
There is tongue-in-cheek mnemonic among evolutionary biologists for naming the fundamental mind-states of all animals: they call them the ‘Four Fs’: Fright, Flight, Fight and -- sex. (A chuckle? Me too).
Rules, as we know, are defined by their exceptions -- and the recent appearance of a creature that violates the four fundamental drives has left the scientific community scratching its collective head and scrambling to re-write the textbooks. Descending (plummeting, really) from the Homo Erectus - Sapien line, comes the elephantine Americanus Reclinus (Average American in the common tongue, or, simply, Average); Scientists have concluded, after much debate, that Americanus Reclinus requires only three Fs to fully catalog his primal mind-states. They are: Football, Flavor, and -- the last one stayed the same.
Let’s examine these in turn:
The first F - Football is actually representative of a whole host of spectacles -- including running with a ball, hitting a ball with a stick, chasing after ball, fighting, driving quickly in circles, and others -- that the Reclinus brain instinctively seeks out when it wishes to avoid its most anathema activity -- thinking. Researchers concluded that at the first sign of reflection, Reclinus’ hypothalamus, the region of the brain responsible for the three Fs, immediately instructs the neck to extend and oscillate, while the eyes are sent to dart around in search of a flickering screen. Reclinus shows visible signs of agitation and distress when Football is unavailable (this was discovered in a laboratory setting, as Reclinus, a creature of exceptional foresight, has modified his environment so that Football is virtually ubiquitous, and always accessible by a maximum neck rotation 45 degrees in any direction). Indeed, Football Activated Thoughtlessness (FAT), as this phenomenon came to be known, is so reliable and predictable, that the most sure way to tell that Average has something on his mind is the reflexive action he takes to escape it.
The next F - Flavor, is what brings this otherwise scientific arcana into the realm of interest of NoShmeat. Initially, ivory tower debate questioned whether the F should be extended to Food more broadly, rather than restricted solely to Flavor. It was determined, however, that the latter is more accurate, because Average is concerned only with the stimulation of his taste-buds, and does not actually give the proverbial rat’s ass about his food, as such. In fact, repeated experiments have shown that when put in possession of a rat’s ass, or an ass of any kind, Reclinus consumes it immediately. This behavior was first predicted by the pioneering social scientist George Carlin:
“Americans will eat anything! Anything! ANYTHING!” Carlin speculated. “If you were selling sauteed raccoons’ assholes on a stick, Americans would buy them, and eat them.” Adding, “Especially if you dipped them in butter, and put a little salsa on them.”
Years of observation have validated Carlin’s hypothesis.
The best minds in the field have unsuccessfully tried numerous methods intended to interrupt Reclinus’ continual flavor-seeking:
Placing Reclinus in front of a mirror to demonstrate the ill-effects of his diet has proved ineffectual -- even in the most distraction-free environment, Average immediately starts fidgeting and glancing at the spaces beyond his reflection to check if perhaps, at that very moment, a hot cheese-steak sandwich or an unclaimed glass of milk might just happen to come floating by. Indeed, whether Average recognizes his own likeness in the mirror is still hotly debated.
The most graphic portrayals of the brutality, and unimaginable cruelty that his insatiable quest for cheap taste costs his fellow earthbound creatures, have, at the most, elicited in Reclinus only fleeting grimaces of dissatisfaction. These were immediately relieved by copious releases of saliva, and spasmodic movements of the neck and eyes, characteristic of a FAT response.
Attempts to explain the impossibility of sustaining his diet from a resource stand-point produced a similar reaction. One incident took a tragic turn when a Reclinus became irate, after being promised that he would be “spoon-fed” the information. Needless to say, this made Reclinus very hungry, yet the novice researcher remained woefully unaware of his error until it was too late, and his face was burned beyond recognition by a spray of acidic spittles, released by the ravenous Reclinus chewing through his leather restraints. Further experimentation in this direction has subsequently been discontinued, pending a reassessment of safety procedures.
The final F requires little explanation. It has ensured that since his appearance, Reclinus has been multiplying at a stupefying rate, straining planetary resources with his prodigious appetite. Some have put forward a theory that a global crisis may yet be averted because, statistically speaking, as Average continues to taste everything he comes into contact with, a substance will inevitably emerge that will be gastronomically irresistible and will possess the property of rendering Reclinus sterile.
China initially made some promising headway toward population control by introducing massive quantities of lead into the Reclinus’ diet. However, they were discovered, and ceased immediately when Reclinus bared his teeth and licked his lips in the general direction of the Chinese mainland.
Still others, not wishing to leave the fate of humanity to blind chance, or slow poisoning, are feverishly working on a fail-safe. Leveraging Reclinus’ craving for taste bud stimulation, which he places above all other considerations, researchers are looking to modify Reclinus DNA to make his flesh slightly tastier than other types, thereby -- at least according to theory -- terminating the evolutionary branch in a frenzy of self-cannibalism.
(It should be noted that another prominent strategy put forward for dealing with Average -- a mass existential crisis triggered by cutting off electricity to his televisions -- has been rejected, following voluble protestation by Human Rights groups that denounced the method as “inhumane”).
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Americanus Reclinus is the unlikely place of his emergence -- an environment where all factors anticipated an evolutionary leap, rather than a nosedive -- the central regions of the North American continent. With its highly advanced technology, ubiquity of information, individual freedom, and opportunity, this fertile bedrock was expected to produce the Homo Transcendus, ushering in the next age of humanity -- a planetary union of peace and harmony. The sudden emergence of Reclinus was therefore wholly unexpected, and has led to a reassessment of the fundamentals of evolutionary theory.
Reclinus himself has been unable to shed any light on the mystery of his own existence. When asked to comment, he invariably shrugs, shuffles his feet, and begins to look around impatiently. Although once, when cornered and pressed repeatedly to give some consideration to the future -- in the brief pause before FAT kicked in -- his face cleared, his eyes lit up, he straightened, and in a voice unusually clear and decisive -- loudly demanded a refill on his cola.