An Ancient Riddle: Is it Red Meat or White Meat

Sometimes you need to find humor at work. Sarcasm warning.

So me and Dave (not his real name to protect his true identity) are installing computers in the area across the hall. In my new job as flunkie boy / clerical / mail merge expert / paper sorter / wanna-be-IT-guy, I get to do lots of stuff (read: because they pay me dirt and its the only job I can get that even pays this much).

Anyway, so Dave and I are installing computers, patching them up, loading software, deleting old dead accounts from the machines, removing roaming profiles that we don't know what they actually do to begin with other than take up ram and slow things down, and other related things that involve crawling on the floor, plugging in cables and avoiding the trash people let accumulate under their desk. This was clearly not our ideal job of loading those ultra spy web cams they advertise on the interweb to take secret pictures of supermodels that work in your office, but it is what it is.

When out of no where we over hear Bob say "Sorry, I gave up red meat for lent".

We both snicker a little at the ancient ritual and make some comment about sacrificing a virgin would be so much more fun. And by sacrifice I mean just attempt to find one, fail at that, then go get beers at a strip club and look at chicks would be a better ritual than whatever this lent thing was.

We get done with the first phase of the computer stuff and Dave says to me, "Dude, what is red meat and what is white meat?". I say, you know, I don't know, lets go ask Bob. Dave and I are thrill seekers as you can already tell. We are like Chuck Norris of the IT world.

We find an excuse to go ask Bob some inane question about computers and his departments needs for software which we have no intention of actually doing anything because all of these issues are decided by someone else to begin with. (sorry we have a cruel streak some days).

So we walk over towards Bob's general direction and drop the bomb "Bob, you know, I've always wanted to know what is the difference between Red meat and White meat?" we asked.

Bob being very proud of his convictions, and generally being a nice guy says, "well...Red meat walks the planet, as god intended it to do and White meat flies in the air or swims in the oceans". For the briefest of moments we pause at the pearl of wisdom just bestowed upon us. The sun shined brighter, the clouds opened up, the universe revealed itself to us.

We thank Bob for his time and input on the computer needs and slither back to our side of the building. We decided that Bob meant any body of water, either moving or not when he said oceans, because if not that would rule out lakes, rivers and fjords. And we cant have that. No one puts Fjords in the corner!

Some time passes and Dave says to me. Well didnt they call pork "The Other White Meat" (TM) in some advertising campaign a few years ago. I said, I believe that to be true. Dave says, but pork is from a pig, and a pig walks the earth, as god intended, so doesnt that make it Red meat?

We had a conundrum on our hands, and it could blow the top off of this whole issue. This was serious business now. We needed some serious answers. It was time to put our collective brains together and get to the bottom of this fiasco. We were on a mission. With our combined brain capacity, no problem was too small, or too large, but that doesnt matter. The mission was all that was important.

I countered, with chickens. Chickens, technically have wings, but they really don't fly. They kind of flap around, but they walk the earth more than anything else. We both decided that perching in a tree did not constitute flying, so clearly chickens walked the earth, as god intended. Or at a minimum used to fly and either got lazy and decided to walk and their wings stopped working or god punished them. Regardless of the religious ramifications or our personal dogma, we declared that chickens walked the earth, as god intended. Which in turn requires they be red meat.

Clearly this was a problem. Chicken is either white meat, dark meat, or buffalo wings with lots of hot sauce (and ideally served by 21 year old college females in Orange shorts, but that is another story all-together). We were taken aback by this new perspective. Chicken is Red Meat. Which was tantamount to saying Soylent Green is People. How can this be...

Dave, being the ever quick one replies to my chickens with Ducks. He says, they fly, they swim and they walk the earth, as god intended. So what are they?

Wow, that one stumped me. Is their meat color determined by a majority percentage of which domain they spend the most time in. And from there, if they migrate, from one lake to another does the flying time during migration really count towards flying, because their intention is to go to another lake to swim. We briefly mentioned Canadian geese, but decided that if we cant nail down ducks, there is no way we can get to canadian geese. There could be ramifications with international law for even attempting to involve the canadian geese. Immigration reform did not account for Canadian geese. We didn't want to mix our religion with our politics, especially at work.

After many long seconds of contemplation, we voted that ducks swim the oceans (or lakes to be specific), which would make them white meat and flying was an incidental aspect of their need to be in the oceans (or lakes). And walking was only a by product of getting out of the water to eat so they could go back in the water. The closer for ducks was the aged analogy "like water off a ducks back". Clearly, ducks swam the oceans and were thusly white meat.

This seemed to be a huge problem as we had previously thought of chickens and ducks as equals in the grand scheme of things. It was a sad day when we realized that was no longer possible. Segregation and discrimination was also part of the animal kingdom. We hung our heads low with shame.

Well, not to be undone, I said Manatee. Dave said, sorry, clear cut answer, white meat, swims in the oceans. I knew in my heart, that manatee (the sea cow) should be red meat, but the logic would not break, they swim in the oceans, hence, they must be white meat. We didn't even go into the part where the manatee is truly an aggressive creature and attacks recreational boaters just trying to have a good time.

Dave gleefully dropped the bomb, Platypus. I was like a deer in the headlights, stuck in a space time continuum, the matrix was failing, blood leaving my head, i felt faint. They swim, they walk, they lay eggs. My god (no pun intended), what are they. I was stumped. Even Dave didn't know what the answer was. It has probably taken scholars hundreds of years to figure this out, but since Dave and I only had 10 minutes before lunch, we went into overdrive. We decided that the sole determining factor for the platypus must be flippers. No one in their right mind would walk the earth, as god intended with flippers, so by default, they must be white meat.

It was approaching lunch, and we had successfully wasted a solid 15 minutes and felt proud of our vast knowledge base of world facts, animal husbandry and theology. Later in the day we would attempt to resolve other creatures to ensure they were properly categorized. We had to have answers. This was one rock that would be overturned and the light of the truth would shine on it until it relented.

It was issues like this that upper management paid us what they did so we would gleefully return each and every day and crawl under desks to check cat5e cable and remove viruses from the accounting guys computer.

Our short list for future discussions included

Those crazy monkeys in Japan that sit in the hot water springs with snow on their head
Those lizard things on the island where that Darwin guy went that swim and walk the land
Lobsters and crabs (because they don't swim, they walk)
and snakes

epilogue: We still haven't figured out snakes, because they have no feet to walk the land, and they can swim and some actually live in the oceans.