Wrong or Mostly Wrong?: Columbus’s Day Out

One day in 1492, an Italian explorer named Christopher Columbus gained an audience with the king and queen of Spain.  The reason that he approached the Spanish court instead of the Italian court is because no one in Italy wanted to go courting with him.  Make of that what you will.

When Columbus met with the Spanish king and queen, he had an ingenious proposal.

“I propose that the world is not flat, but is instead round.”  Columbus proudly proclaimed.

The king blinked at him.  “That’s the reason that you wanted to see us?”

“Yes, your majesty.”  Columbus replied.

“Come here.  I have something to tell you.”  the king said.

Columbus approached the king.

“Don’t be shy.  Come in a little closer.”  the king said.

Columbus leaned in real close to the king.

We know the Earth is round, you moron!  We’ve known that the Earth is round for thousands of years!”  the king shouted.

Columbus backed away, rubbing his ears.

“But you do not understand the entirety of my proposal, my good king.  I propose that we can take a shortcut to India by sailing west instead of east.”  Columbus said.

“That is easily the dumbest thing that I have ever heard in my entire life.  Everyone knows that the world is too large for that to work.  If you sail west of Europe, you’ll be out there for years and find nothing but empty ocean.”  the king said.

“That cannot be so!  Anyone with half a brain can tell that the Earth is shaped like a pear!  All I have to do is sail across the narrow part and I will get to India faster than you can say goodbye!”  Columbus explained.

The king turned to the queen.  “Where do you find these nuts?”

“Don’t look at me!  I thought you requested this audience.”  the queen said.

“Look, you can’t possibly be this stupid.  Why do you really want to sail off into the unknown?”  the king asked.

“Truthfully?”  Columbus asked.

“Yes.”  the king said.

“Well, my Portuguese wife and my Spanish mistress are both having their babies at the same time, and I want to be as far away from Europe as I can get before the blessed event occurs.”  Columbus said.

Three months later, Columbus was preparing to set sail with the three ships that the Spanish king and queen gave him.

“Why did you give him the ships for his ludicrous mission?”  the queen asked.

“You wouldn’t understand.  It’s a man thing.”  the king said.

“You’re hoping that he gets lost at sea so that you can claim his Spanish mistress for yourself, aren’t you?” the queen asked.

“Preposterous!  How dare you suggest that I, a king, would do something so underhanded just to get my hands on someone’s mistress?”  the king said.

The queen glared hard at the king.

“It’s his Portuguese wife that I’m after.”  the king sighed.

So Columbus took his three ships and prepared them for his voyage.  The first ship he named the Pinta, or The Spotted One, after his lovely wife who he hoped just had a random outbreak of red freckles.  The second ship he named the Nina, or the girl, in honor of the mistress that he hopes no one would ever find out about.  The last ship he named the Santa Maria, or the Holy Mary, because the nun that found out about his little secret had some very peculiar demands in exchange for keeping her mouth shut.

After two months at sea, Columbus and his crew finally spotted land.  Columbus immediately declared the expedition a success upon reaching what he believed to be India.  Of course, anyone with any sense could tell that these were islands, and that India is a peninsula, but we’ve already established that Columbus was not exactly playing with a full deck.

“Ah!  We have finally reached India!”  Columbus said.

“This isn’t India.”  one of his crew said.

“What, are you some kind of expert on India now?” Columbus asked.

“Yes, I am.  That’s the entire reason you brought me along on this expedition, remember?”  the crewman replied.

“Oh, shush.  Look, here come the native Indians to greet us!”  Columbus said.

“Those are not Indians.  I honestly don’t know who they are.”  the crewman said.

So Columbus and his crew met the natives, and once the natives stopped laughing at the crew’s ridiculous clothing, made peace with then.  A few months later, Columbus returned to Spain and met with the king and queen once again.

“Ah, mighty king and queen!  My mission was a complete success!”  Columbus said.

“No it wasn’t.”  the crewman said.

“You found a shortcut to India?”  the king asked.

“Yes I did!”  Columbus said.

“That was not India.”  the crewman said.

“We even made peace with a group of Indians.”  Columbus said.

“Those were not Indians.”  the crewman said.

The king turned to the queen.  “I guess that means I owe you twenty bucks.”

The queen shook her head.  “The bet was for thirty.”

The king turned back to Columbus.  “So how did you find India?”

“It was amazing!  They are the most beautiful islands I have ever been on.”  Columbus replied.

“Um…you know that India is a peninsula, right?”  the king asked.

“What’s your point?”  Columbus responded.

And that is the story of how Christopher Columbus discovered Not India.  Is this story Wrong or Mostly Wrong?  You be the judge!  And the jury.  Just please don’t be the executioner.  I still have a lot to live for.


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