The Grass is Always Greener

There are many universal truths in this world, most of which are unfair.

For example, whenever you drop a piece of buttered bread, it always lands butter side down, coating your scrumptious snack in hair and dirt. This is unfair. In real life, bad guys don’t always lose, good guys don’t always win, and things get broken, stolen, smashed, crashed, and lost—and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s unfair, but that’s how it is.

However, there are some unfairnesses that strike much closer to home. You may wonder, “How come Mom never notices when my sister picks her nose, but always yells at me when I do it?” Or you might ask, “How come the Smiths next door get to have a ten-foot-long boa constrictor and a herd of zebras, and all we get is slug in a jar?”

 

Whenever you ask questions of this sort, an ancient and crotchety old person will thrust his wrinkly old face into yours, glare at you over the top of his narrow spectacles, and wheeze:

“Young whippersnapper! As my Uncle Albert would say: The grass is always greener on the other side!”

 This advice is never helpful. The old person is only saying it to stop you from complaining, and you know it. Thus, over the years, many children have come to regard the phrase “The grass is always greener on the other side” as a hated symbol of adult oppression and megalomania.

The truth is, the old person doesn’t know why he’s saying that phrase, nor why it is so true. The phrase has been passed down from crotchety uncle to crochety uncle, all the way back to a time when humans as we know them today didn’t exist; a time when the world we live on now was ruled by...?

Exactly! Cows.

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In fact, the phrase “The grass is always greener” tells the story of one very specific cow.

One of the most intelligent cows that ever roamed the grassy fields of Cowgea.

A cow that all cattle now speak of with reverence. A scientific and gifted brown cow by the name of Francesca.

That’s her, on the right.

Most cows at the time, as I’m sure you know, were interested in the arts rather than the sciences. There were many fabulous creative works produced during this era; the Moona Lisa is perhaps the most famous example. But scientific progress was virtually stagnant.

Francesca, never one to follow the herd, was fascinated by science in all respects. She studied psychology, biology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, economics, geology, calculus, geometry, and algebra with equal passion

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While other cows gamboled and gambled, Francesca stayed up late every night working on her various theses.

Although she was different, Francesca had lots of friends. Cows were evolved enough to see that just because someone is different is no reason to dislike them, and Francesca’s friends loved her quirky ways.

I know I drew her sitting alone in the corner, but that was just Francesca’s favorite spot in the barn, because it was comfortable and had good lighting.


One day, Francesca was gazing at the great divider of Cowgea.

Many hundreds of years before Francesca was born, there were two rival herds on Cowgea: the Spurtans and the Calfinians. The Spurtans were very bulligerent, and erected a mighty fence, dividing the continent of Cowgea into two sections.

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The fence might not look that impressive, but it’s pretty good considering that cows don’t have opposable thumbs.

Anyhow, after a while, the Spurtans wore the grass down to the ground, reducing their half of the continent to mud and rocks. Since they weren’t able to cross the fence to conquer new land from the Calfinians, they took off in their warfaring boats to seek out and settle new land. No one has heard of them since, which is probably a good thing; they weren’t very nice.

The Calfinian tribe was never able to cross the great divide, and the grass that Francesca was looking at beyond the fence had had a long, long time to recuperate. It was lush and velvety, and called out to Francesca’s hungry being. 

Quizzically, she turned to some elder cows who were chewing their cud and reminiscing about the old days, and asked,

“How now, brown cows? Why is the grass so much greener on that side? It seems unfair.”

Well, you can guess what happened.

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An ancient and crotchety old bull stood up, and put on a pair of spectacles for glaring purposes. Then he thrust his wrinkly old face into hers, and wheezed:

“Young whippersnapper! That’s just how it is and has been, since the parting of the Spurtans. The grass is always greener on the other side!”

The old bull’s name was Albert, by the way, but I’m sure that was a coincidence.

Francesca didn’t like having her moo-sings dismissed any more than you do. She left in a huff and sat in her favorite corner and thought.

And thought. And thought. She thought till her brain felt stiff and achy, and her hooves were cramped from scribbling blueprints and equations.

Finally, after sixty-five hours of work, Francesca leapt into the air joyfully and announced, “Eureka! I’ve got it!”

She promptly fell on her face, of course, because her legs were completely asleep after sixty-five hours of inactivity. Once she regained feeling in her hindquarters, she roused the herd’s leaders and presented her idea to them. 

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See what an udderly good idea it must have been? Look at all those complex equations. 

Contrary to what you might expect, the herd leaders really liked young Francesca’s idea. They put plans in motion that very day, and within a week, Francesca presented her solution to the whole herd.

“My fellow cows,” Francesca mooed to the assembled herd.

Well, ‘mooed’ isn’t quite right. This was the first great moment of Francesca’s life, and very significant, and I really wish there was a more noble word for the noise cows make.

“My fellow cows,” Francesca mooed, nobly, “I have found the solution!” She then explained what I’m sure you’ve already figured out—that the cows should cowtapult themselves over the fence, onto the verdant green grass that grew on the other side. 

“And, so, my friends,” Francesca concluded at the end of the speech, “We shall partake of the luscious grass, and fill our multiple stomachs with its sweet nutrients! And once we have reduced that grass to dust, we can cowtapult back to this side, where this grass will have had time to rejuvenate! The fence shall be a problem no more forever!” 

And with this, the herd let up a great cheer!

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Francesca went first. She insisted, because she was the inventor, and the herd insisted, because they wanted to make sure her contraption worked. The cowtapult was a brand new concept, you see, and most of the cows in the herd were a little doubtful that it would work properly.

Francesca lifted herself into the cowtapult, and faced forwards bravely. The string holding the basket side back was released, the catapult shot forward, and Francesca was flung high, high up in the air at a tremendous speed! 

Her invention had worked!

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“Cowabungaaaaa!”

Once she landed safely, the herd followed, flinging themselves over the fence in ones and twos at top speed. The old bull, Albert, was the last to launch himself to freedom. Then the herd gathered around Francesca, lifting her on their backs and mooing happily in the mid-day sun.

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And so it was that the members of this herd were always able to live on the greenest side of the fence for the rest of their lives.

Francesca grew up to become a wise and respected leader, and every time the herd shot themselves to greener pastures, she was the first to lead the way. She founded a school of sciences, which took cowtapult technology to places we can’t even fathom in our modern age.

She is remembered by cows everywhere as one of the greatest minds that ever there was.

So, the next time some smelly old person tries to dismiss you by saying “The grass is always greener on the other side,” well…

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  …you know what to do!