austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

We have an old fashioned tomato, a Long Island tomato, but ...

Further excerpts from the Guide to Alternate History Worlds:

Plantaintion, World 56-11-11:

In this colorful world the professional golf course industry and the related city-beautification movements settled on an ideal not of wide patches of uniformly green grass but instead fields of bananas. As a result the landscape is dotted with the broad leaves and bright yellow bunches of foot-tall banana bushes sticking up in complex tangled weaves.

For obvious reasons Edwin Beard Budding, inventor of the lawn mower, is here regarded as unleasher of the world's greatest casual horror. Each weekend millions of homeowners try trimming the banana bushes to an attractive height and invariably end in a slushy mess. Individual wedges of sliced banana are flung by off-balance mowers sometimes dozens of feet high, allowing goop to accumulate in the rain gutters as well as on the house's trim.

Injuries are common but not severe, because mower blades are slow from trying to whack through the Really Gros Michel, which has in under a century evolved excellent defenses against lawn mower technology, including thicker peels and an irritating liquid it sprays at its mowers. Within decades banana lawns are expected to perfect their immunity against being cut, and will begin Phase Two of taking over the world.

The Customs Department for our world therefore requires anyone bringing bananas back from this world to consume them entirely, in front of them, with everyone watching, and then teases returning visitors about how the seeds are going to settle in their small intestine, take root, and transform the consumer into a banana-human hybridized monster. Bananas, of course, have no seeds, which instead take root in the large intestine.

The decision would be fateful for golf; for one, it made nearly useless the development of bright yellow balls. The popular brown-spotted ball fell victim in the 1950s to Dutch elm disease for reasons that continue to baffle scientists. The best theory is the balls were heartbroken after the loss of those lovely Dutch elms. It also made putting nearly completely futile.

To make the sport playable with a heavy emphasis on chip shots the target holes became less holes and more pits reaching dozens of feet, making it possible to hit balls somewhere near the target and requiring rapelling devices and pitons to retrieve the ball, or, for senior golf courses, stairs. Miniature golf in this world is frustratingly large by our standards, with individual clown-face targets reaching as high as forty feet into the sky. Aim for just a foot to the left.

The effect on urbanized wildlife has been dramatic. In Plantaintion almost no rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, or groundhogs are known to have a potassium deficiency, and may be even running a little rich in vitamin B6.

In this world slipping on a banana peel lost its comic charm long ago, which should not hurt humorists as they don't find it funny in Plantaintion either. However, trying to keep one's balance while running across a square foot of sod has lost none of its merriment. It had none.

SPECIAL TRAVEL ADVISORY: It should hardly be necessary to point this out, but apparently some people cannot make the most basic logical deductions. As this world does not have the notion of vast green expanses of lawn as a desirable thing, it never developed ``Astroturf'' technology. As a result Houston never acquired any major league sports franchises. Any scalpers offering deals on 52-11-11-world Astros, Oilers, or Rockets games is running a scam.

Pyridoxical, World 65-23-6:

SUPPLEMENTAL DATA: Since the previous report on this world, where vitamin B6 was discovered first, before even fire or pebbles, it has been learned another difference lies in their version of Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers. Whereas in our timeline's book the fat servant boy Joe keeps falling asleep, in theirs he's the only character able to stay awake at all. That book, no shorter than ours, contains some of the finest serialized snoring of 19th Century British literature. It's compared favorably but not excessively so to Histomulae (17-541-550) world's version, in which all the characters are always sneezing, particularly as this version is not so moist.

Trivia: W S Harban is credited as the first golfer to ask the Department of Agriculture for help in turf problems, when he met with Dr C V Piper and Dr R A Oakley of the Bureau of Plant Industry in 1906. Source: The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession, Virginia Scott Jenkins.

Currently Reading: Good Luck, Yukikaze, Chohei Kambayaski.


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