True, I have always been happy that all the things that are inside the body are inside the body, and that all things outside the body, are out I'm glad to find my lungs on the inside of my chest, for example; if they were outside, they'd keep getting in the way, those two great incipient angel wings; besides, it would be messy I mean, how would it be if your reached out to shake someone's hand and there, in the palm, were a kidney and a liver complete with spleen? Can you imagine standing at 5 PM in a crowded subway car full of empty stomachs? What if a nice, nearsighted old lady were knitting socks and suddenly her veins fell out? How would she avoid creating a substance full of strangeness and pain? To the barefoot country boy sitting on the edge of the bed in the morning and opening Aunt Minnie's gift box, the sight of those socks would be what he'd call "a real eye-opener!" And what if our voices touched? If our mouths went out, instead of in? If you were inside of me; or, at least, if I were inside of you?
The Beef Epitaph
This is what it was: Sometime in the recent but until now unrecorded past, it was decided by certain ingenious and commercially forward-looking cattle-ranchers in a certain large, modern Western nation which prides itself on being nutritionally forward-looking, that since people are increasingly nutrition-conscious, and increasingly insistent that "you are what you eat," all cattle on the way to market were to be marked with brief descriptive tags noting the favorite food of each animal; and also stating approximately how much each ate of it. This, it was felt, would both delight the diner and comfort the nutrition-conscious consumer: people would be able to tell exactly what kind of flavor and texture of beef they were purchasing beforehand, and always be able to secure exactly the kind of product most likely to delight their taste, since they would know a whole lot more than ever before about the quality and kind of nourishment which the animal had received (it was a little like our own, well-established, present-day modern American system of catering to preferences for light and dark meat in chicken--by supplying each part shrink-wrapped in a separate bag in the supermarkets). The system set up by those ingenious and commercially forward-looking cattle-ranchers was remarkably efficient; and seemed--at least at first--to be destined for success. This is how it worked: First, on each animal's last day on the ranch, they attached the main, or so-called "parent" tag--made out according to information provided by each rancher, or their hired hands, or even (in some cases) their immediate family--to each head of livestock. The information contained on each tag would be of course be definitive, since it was compiled just before the two or three days required for shipment of the animal to the slaughterhouse--during which travel time, of course, the animal customarily doesn't eat anything, anyway.... Once at the slaughterhouse, they carefully removed the "parent tags"; and during the slaughtering, mechanically duplicated them numerous times, preparing perhaps hundreds of tiny labels for each animal. Immediately afterwards, at the packing plant, these miniature, or "baby" tags were affixed, respectively to the proper bodily parts--each section of each animal being separately and appropriately tagged, each as if with an epitaph. But then something went wrong with this means of delighting the diner, and of comforting the nutrition-conscious consumer. At first, quite predictably, the tags came out reading things like "Much grass, a little moss, medium grain" and "Much grass, much grain, generally ate a lot." And this, as one might expect, proved (at least at first), a great pleasure to purchasers! But then tags began coming through reading things like "A little grass, a little grain, many diverse scraps from our table"; and "She was our favorite pet--gave her all we had to give"; and there was even one (featured at dinnertime one evening on network television news) which was tear-stained and which said, in a child's handwriting, "Good-bye, Little Blackie Lamb, sorry you had to grow up--I'll sure miss you!" And so, gradually, despite its efficiency, this system somehow ceased to delight the diner, and comfort the nutrition-conscious consumer. And this is how the practise of The Beef Epitaph became generally neglected over the course of time; and how the members of a large, nutrition-conscious, and otherwise generally quite sophisticated modern nation very much like our own, came to eat their beef--as indeed they still do today--partially or even totally blindfolded.