I never used to be a risk-taker but then I had children who would play in the park and say things like: “Daddy, close your eyes and open your mouth.” You soon learn what true courage is.
A gutsy decision was made recently: a couple who got top score on a farm-themed mobile phone game took home a live cow as their prize. Game-maker Digital Media gives winners the option of taking their award in the form of steaks, but the latest winners, from Tunisia, took the entire cow “as is”.
“That way they get the cow as a pet, but also have the option of turning it into steaks later,” said reader Bernard Betts, who sent me the news item.
Reading it reminded me of a solo sailor I once met who went on long sea voyages with a dog called Emergency Rations. He assured me that the pooch had no idea what his name meant, but it kept making worried eyes at him.
Anyway, I like that the cow-winners chose the brave option. The same could be said for UK university students who this month elected a cat as honorary president, I heard from reader Sara Padilla. I added that to my list of unbelievable-but-true election results. In 1967 a tin of itchy foot powder was elected mayor of a town in Ecuador; in 1988, a chimpanzee stood for election in Rio de Janeiro under the slogan “Vote monkey, get monkey” (possibly the only honest political slogan in the history of the world); and in 2004 the US public re-elected George W. Bush, when it was clear to everyone else in the world that a tin of itchy foot powder would make better decisions.
Of course, you can also make life interesting by making original decisions on a smaller scale. Reader Rajiva Singhe forwarded me a news item about a US business traveller who noticed a box on his hotel booking form labelled “additional requests”. So Sean Fitzsimons wrote something silly on it: “If it’s not too much trouble could you build a fort out of pillows?” The hotel staff did. Now he always puts in offbeat requests (“I would like a photo of a dog dressed as a sea captain”) purely to challenge hoteliers and increase the amount of fun in the world.
I immediately thought of “additional requests” I could make for some of the hotels I stay in around in Asia: 1) “A bed that doesn’t collapse in the night”; 2) “Edible food”; 3) “Staff which speak at least one of the top 10 human languages”, 4) “A door that closes” and the like. That should challenge them!
Anyway, if I ever win a mobile phone farm-themed game, I’m definitely going for the live cow option, whatever trouble I get into. Wife: “You said you wouldn’t bring home any more large useless items.” Me (covering the ears of cow): “Shhh! She can hear you, darling.”
Meanwhile, a lot of people have been complaining about elections this year. If you don’t like the candidates, nominate a tin of foot powder, or just vote for anyone whose slogan has the frankness level of “Vote monkey, get monkey”. You get someone honest, and it’s good to be a risk-taker.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send comments and ideas via the author’s Facebook page)