Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watermelon Wars

Was I involved in this? I'll never tell!!!

If you grew up in a rural part of the south then you probably knew about – maybe even participated in – a summer night raid on a farmer’s watermelon patch. It was a planned raid that would rival any of Stonewall Jackson’s charges. Distractions, flanking maneuvers, and stealthy attacks were all common. The farmer – on defense – used lights, shotgun blasts, dogs, fences, and just about any other non-lethal means available.
Looking back I really believe that the farmer’s enjoyed the “game” as much as the “raiders” did? One farmer commented years later said that the raiders were not “stealing” his good melons – they were “culling” his bad ones. His theory was that you couldn’t pick good melons in the dark. If he was right then the raiders were doing the farmers a favor. I’m not sure he wasn’t just covering his inability to deter the thievery?
Regardless it was a competition that was normally “friendly.” The “raiders” were careful not to damage the farmer’s livelihood - and the farmers normally were controlled in their defenses.
After saying that – there was one farmer who evidently decided he would up the ante to cease raids on his patch. He decided to change the rules. He knew that after the raid the raiders assembled in a recon area on the riverbank and consumed their spoils in a sort of celebration. Knowing this he decided on a defensive plan that would have been a crime if it had taken place in modern warfare. It was a form of “biological warfare.” During the daylight hours he posted signs all around his patch that said, “WARNING – ONE WATERMELON IN THIS PATCH HAS BEEN INJECTED WITH CATTLE LAXATIVE.” Now, whether or not you understand cattle laxatives - you can imagine if it would “loosen up” a cow it would really loosen up a 160-pound guy! Would it ever!
Now the raiders big question was whether or not the farmer really had injected a melon or was he just bluffing? If the signs were really true then this was a serious escalation that could not be ignored. Who knows, this defense might spread to other farmers and then what recreation would be available for country kids on warm summer nights other than to sit over at the lake with their favorite girl and watch the submarine races.
Since the raiders wanted to err on the side of safety they decided on a maneuver to counteract the farmers escalation. A quick plan was worked out to be implemented that very night.
The raiders did not want to stoop to the farmer’s level and use “biological warfare” so they did the next best thing – they used “psychological warfare.” With a small team and a stealthy approach the plan was carried out over night without ever entering the farmer’s patch.
The next morning the farmer was viewing his field and could tell that no one had entered his melon patch. He was beginning to feel really good about his “biological warfare” method when he glanced at the signs surrounding his patch and noticed that the “one” on each sign had been covered with an “X” and a “2” was written above where the “one” had been x’ed out. His heart sank as he thought about his dilemma. His signs now read :
Without ever entering the melon patch the raiders had won the battle by using “psychological warfare” to overcome “biological warfare.”

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