A team of researchers at the Institute for Not Excessively Advanced Inquiry revealed this week their discovery of the generally largest thing. The generally largest thing, represented by an irregular graphite-covered aluminum frame, is estimated to reach over five feet from top to bottom, seven feet from side to side, four feet from protruding blob in one corner to protruding blob sort of making another corner, and extremely thin at a little divot just the right size to put your fist in and get your hand stuck, requiring a call to paramedics. These paramedics arrive quickly, with a wearied look at being called yet again and the silent question of why the researchers couldn't have announced this discovery next week when they'd be on vacation.
The generally largest thing, with the addition around the divot of a fair layer of lubricant and skin cells torn from the hands of regretful onlookers, was discovered at the end of years of inquiry into just how large a thing could generally be. The question was first raised in connection with improving the manufacture process for wrapping paper, which has always been balanced between the problem of selling sheets and rolls that will wrap five and a third times around the longest dimension of the smaller things one means to wrap, and will fit four-fifths of the way around the smallest dimension of the largest things one wants to wrap.
Identifying the generally largest thing, therefore, allows for the theoretical manufacture of wrapping paper that can adequately cover this largest case. This also solves the problem of wrapping smaller things by making clear just how much bigger they ought to have been. With the generally largest thing now identified it should be a quick project taking no more than 54 months (longer if it rains) to measure exactly how big it is and cut the first prototype rolls of wrapping paper to that size.
Critics of the research have been swift to point out that any wrapping for the generally largest thing would have to be even larger than it, and would therefore become a new generally largest thing which would need to be wrapped. To this the Institute pointed out that wrapping up wrapping paper, except in the plastic bag with the brand name and the price tag used while it's on the store shelf, and then into a bigger still shopping bag to carry it from the store, would be ridiculous.
More stinging is an internal memorandum sent by accident to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration two months ago, where it was used to write down the lunch orders for the fifth-floor office staff, but which noted that the generally largest thing their research was converging on was actually not that large at all.
Things named specifically as being larger than it include jumbo jets, nutrias subjected to growth rays and sent rampaging through the countryside with horrifying squeaks and nibbles by mad scientists hoping to show them all, the rubble pile which was formerly New Hampshire's ``Old Man of the Mountain'', and several movie studio buildings. The memo proposed salvaging the research project by declaring they had actually been searching for the generally largest small thing, or the smallest generally large thing, or just a thing of reasonably intermediate size. This advice was not heeded, but it did disrupt the lunch of a person who had not meant to order the calzone in extra-medium size.
Despite the controversy the generally largest thing has proven popular with tourists and gift shop owners, who find models, T-shirts, and inspirational posters of it will move briskly unless weighted down by the generally largest thing when the wind is strong. A photo booth, allowing one to take a picture in front of a backdrop portrait of the it, has been set up in the other side of the room from the generally largest thing and has been doing fine business. And in the end everyone's had a pleasant time and learned a bit more about the wonders of a universe that can have generally large things such as this one. Who says there's no room for happy endings anymore?
Trivia: Within a month of signing the Magna Charta, King John of England had secretly written to the Pope asking him to annul the agreement. Source: 1215: The Year of Magna Carta, Danny Danziger, John Gillingham. And if you could ask that rebelling band of nobles and the King what they thought of the fact that a mere 792 years later on that day (more or less) Bob Barker's final scheduled The Price Is Right was to air? Probably they'd wonder if they heard the question correctly.
Currently Reading: A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World, Edited by Philippe Ariès, Georges Duby.
(And why is calzone not in the Apple Dictionary?)