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Cowboy Humor

You Can Never Find a Cassowary When You Really Need One

Don Muerte Bride by Hannah Rose MillerLeft: Donna Muerte Bride, by Hannah Rose

Cowboy Humor by Ben Marshall

Dedicated to Captain Obvious

If I were a Cassowary
On the plains of Timbuktu,
I'd eat a missionary,
Coat and bands and hymnbook too.

These lines were penned by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in the mid 1800's.

Little is known of Bishop Wilberforce after his much-heralded visit to Leadville, Colorado, at the end of the nineteenth century.

He sailed back to England and vanished into 3rd-grade readers but his words live on.

The poem's purported viewin' of a cassowary in a region of the world not ordinarily known for their presence argues the foolishness of goin' places where you don't belong.

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Cassowaries first appeared to European explorers in 1611 and are described as large ratite birds, chiefly of New Guinea and northern Australia, havin' a horny casque on their heads and closely related to the emu.

This puts in doubt any geographical expertise Bishop Samuel may have owned.

But, if he is correct, a cassowary found in Timbuktu eatin' missionaries seems to imply a conflict between two spiritually-crazed creatures who travel to other lands for the sole purpose of proselytization.

It is not known if the missionary first tried to eat the cassowary. Unfortunately, the good Bishop left behind no known diary.

What has long been suspected, however, is cassowaries are evangelical beasts who try to get other birds to adopt their religious ways.

Ceremonies have been witnessed where cassowaries attempted to make smaller creatures wear the "horny casque" on their heads and stare upwards toward heaven.

Because the cassowary has almost no flight capabilities, it is compelled to look into the sky during its waking hours and forces weaker fowl to do the same. Identical behavior can be observed at Billy Graham concerts.

The lack of a keel gives them no possible direction in life other than tryin' to make other creatures participate in their odd rituals.

Birds who object to the cassowaries' rituals are often slaughtered, apparently as infidels. The raptor-like behavior of the cassowary is not well documented elsewhere. The truth is, Samuel's poem remains the only reference ever of them devouring a human. Or, actually, anything.

Perhaps this knowledge emboldened the anti-gay missionary, Scott Lively, who is now being sued for helpin' to promote propaganda and violence against gay people in Uganda. If moral leader, Lively, is still in Uganda, someone has to sound the alarm about how close Timbuktu is to him. It seems his hatred might infuriate even the most mild-mannered cassowary.

The behavior of the cassowary breed is in sharp contrast to their cousins, the emu, who, like the Hindus of today, will not allow a bird to join their religion without actually bein' born an emu.

The cassowaries' need to convert or kill and eat, does closely resemble the Conquistadors of the 17th century who converted a people who became known as "Indians" to Catholicism before sendin' their souls to heaven.

Scientists postulate cassowaries have a strange mental disease other birds do not possess but much like what the Conquistadores must have had. Insanity is the only possible defense the Catholic Church could plead for torturin' countless hundreds of thousands of human beings durin' their centuries-long rein of terror.

Unlike the cassowaries, however, there are no known cases of Conquistadors eatin' their converts after killin' them.

The similarities between this bird's behavior and that exhibited by missionaries and Conquistadores everywhere are too many to mention. Logic argues somewhere there must have been a crossin' of paths. Alas, there is no record of this.

Here's what we do know.

Somewhere in the dark ages, the cassowaries' mental disease jumped from bird to man. It is thought this leap of feathers caused the persecution of the Knights Templar throughout Europe in the 14th century and gave rise to a new religious order, the Dominicans. To them went the honor of torturin' all the Knights Templers they could catch, whose only crime was protectin' crusaders in the Holy Land.

Known as the "Hounds of the Lord," the Dominicans perfected their ability to torture victims in order to elicit confessions from them and were at full strength by the time they ran the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century.

The great irony of all this is there is an excellent chance the Knights Templar first contracted the disease from a proselytizin' cassowary while in the Holy land. An argument can be made for the Knights Templar's' innocence in all this because they, also, were not known to ever have been in Timbuktu.

However, if the cassowary's range did extend at one time to Timbuktu, the Holy Land would certainly be within their missionary scope.

It is also believed the inference of this dark poem or possibly the bite of a present-day cassowary contributed to the underlyin' pathology behind one of America's most ardent religious groups, Donny and Marie. Even today, followers of this group are sometimes referred to as "cassowaries" by anthropologists and other polyglots.

The modern-day Cassowary religion lost steam when it was discovered Donny and Marie were paddin' their numbers by baptizin' dead ancestors of their followers. None of the followers objected to the idiotic idea of baptizin' someone who was dead. What concerned them was the odd way the siblings went about it.

It seems Donny and Marie may have put on white sheets and held their baptisms in their backyard pool. There was, however, always a strong resistance to the urgings of Donny and Marie when they told their followers to jump in the pool with them. With or without their white sheets. "We have underwear for you," they would call out.

At the baptisms, the most commonly-heard phrase was, "Ewww. This is so creepy. Aren't they related?"

It is not known if Donny and Marie Cassowaries ever ate other people or, even, still baptize them into the Cassowary faith when they're from another religion and dead. Current Donny and Marie Cassowaries are hard to find. It seems most of them took memory-deletion drugs much like every Aba fan did durin' the Nineties. "Chemical lobotomies were a small price to pay for getting rid of those memories," one former disciple volunteered for the record. 

Rumors of the Donny and Marie Cassowary sightings still abound. There is some belief one of today's former Presidential hopefuls was a member of the Donny and Marie Cassowaries. As the story goes, this former hopeful was always the first one to jump into the pool and begin baptizin' the souls of dead people in French. He was often suspected of not caring much about poor people's souls, alive or dead.

"Je m'inquiete pas de pauvres personnes," he would proclaim over and over again as he summoned his hordes of phantoms. "Mais pas les pauvres. Les pauvres ont leurs propres cimetieres!"

To date, the proclamation has never been fully understood.

So, in essence, what we have in this poem is a classic battle between two powerful, albeit mindless, crusadin' creatures, the missionary and the cassowary. Both are alien to Timbuktu and both are intent on forcin' their belief systems on hapless, even dead, populations.

Chance meetings would seem likely to result in the death of one or the other with or without the benefit of salvation or assuagin' hunger. This theory is supported by the original cassowary eatin' "coat, bands and hymbook, too."

The only thing clear about all this is where Bishop Wilberforce's sympathies were harbored. On his deathbed, he revealed he wanted to be the cassowary.

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