By Nury Vittachi
Which animal are you? A butterfly, light and free? A lion, strong and majestic? A slug, slimy and repulsive? (Yes, I have someone in mind for that last example, and he knows who he is.) We played this game over dinner at the night market last night. I chose a drop-dead goat as my mascot.
What!? You don't know what a drop-dead goat is?
It's the world's coolest animal. Order one today. Why not get a flock? Once these catch on, everyone will want one. (If you want to get rich, export these to Japan.)
A drop-dead goat is a small, boney, skinny farm animal. It looks and behaves like any normal goat except for one thing.
If you scare it, even mildly, it dies. With the flair of a TV soap actor, it dramatically falls over, its eyes protruding and its four legs stiff, often sticking up into the air in classic rigor mortis position.
(If you do a search for "fainting goat" on www.YouTube.com, you can see videos of them leaping onto their backs after hearing a noise.)
Now a pet that dies at the slightest disturbance may seem to be a bit of a downer. What do you tell your kid when her birthday present theatrically expires?
But this creature should really be called the auto-resurrecting goat. Count to ten and it comes right back to life. It gets up and resumes one or other of its two main activities:
1. Standing in a field eating grass, and,
2. Standing in a field.
The goats can be scared to death any number of times and always recover.
They are the ultimate re-useable product, AND they are entirely biodegradable.
A particularly enjoyable pastime is to get a flock together and then run into the field making terrifying threats, such as: "Let's have a Bollywood film festival right here." The whole group will collapse, legs sticking up, eyes lifeless and tongues lolling out of their mouths. It's a bit like France or Italy during World War II. And just like politicians in those countries, the goats clamber back to their feet and energetically start standing around doing nothing again.
A "fainting goat festival" is held every October in Tennessee in the US, where the beasts are known as Scare Goats, Nervous Goats, Fainting Goats and Wooden-Leg Goats.
I chose a drop-dead goat as my inspiration because life hits us all with seemingly mortal blows at regular intervals. You gotta love a creature that just gets up again and gets on with life.
Farmers like them, because when wolves attack, the goats fall over. The wolves miss out on the expensive and succulent sheep / pigs / farmhands nearby because they are busy eating the goats (who are probably reviewing their strategic goals at that moment).
But I do feel a bit sorry for the goats, which farmers have been breeding to be eaten alive. The poor critters appear to have an evolutionary adaption which has not been thought through. (I'm talking about the goats, not the farmers--actually, maybe I'm talking about the farmers too.)
Regular readers may be reminded of a column I did on the Malaysian Exploding Ant, an insect that protects itself from harm by detonating itself into tiny fragments.
The wisdom or otherwise of this all really depends on your definition of harm.
You may now fall over.