Friday, September 30, 2005

Camouflage Nation

Is there any other country on Earth as enamored with camouflage as this one?

I was walking down the street the other day and picked up a tossed beer can (as I usually do on walks, so as to "dispose of properly," meaning RECYCLE them). Well, this flashy, shiny "silver bullet" caught my eye. At first glance, the usual 16 ouncer Coors Light. But this can was a special edition "camouflage can." Yes, just in case the rushed Coors shopper wondered why this can had added brown leaves, black twigs and little streaks of green and white CAMO background, the can actually says right at the top: "camouflage can." Good thing, too, just in case the said Coors consumer wishes to consume said contents say, for example, behind the wheel of his pick up truck (with the gun rack in back) without the state trooper catching sight of a beer can in hand.

Thing is, the can is still shiny as ever. It's not really dull. If it were really camouflaged, it might be nearly all matte black - and be labeled - discreetly - V8 or Gatorade or something else besides (in big red and white letters) "Coors Light," which is commonly known to be a BEER.

So the idea is philosophical and patriotic, not practical. And patriotic in a national sort of way? No, patriotic in a branding sort of way, as in: "Hey, them Coors guys must be one of us. They must like hunters. They must, we can thusly assume, realy think guns are good, too. Yes, guns are good. I'm buying Coors and taking it with me when I load up my guns and ammo to drive out on the public thoroughfares, yes I am, you bet. Coors is the brew for me."

So do those British fox hunters get all worked up like this? Do those room temp brews they serve come in camo cans? How about the French? The Japanese? The Germans? The Russians? Some of those African tribes are real hunters. Hell, they're whole lives depend on hunting. They must throw back some of those African suds from a camo can.

How about our neighbors, the Canucks? They hunt big animals. Don't they drink Coors? Is there a camo can for Canada that's labeled in English and Quebecuoise?

Americans are so enamored with camouflage, they actually have a church for it. Yes, Cabela's is the American Church of Camouflage. Cabela's doesn't just carry a full line of hunters' garb, it's got camo toddler outfits and - yes, get this - camo diapers, so you can REALLY start 'em young. Now that's not just a Coors can, folks, that's a RELIGION. And Cabela's popularity (or at least its megastore locations) is increasing full bore. The tiny town of Buda, Texas, just south of Austin, recently welcomed the first Cabela's to the Lone Star State. To get the store there, Buda gave Cabela's millions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies and waivers - money every tax payer will have to make up.

Now as for the word camouflage, why, it's....FRENCH, of course. Hmmm, France, now there's a civilized country that knows to keep it's camouflage on its soldiers, where it belongs, neither on its beer cans nor the butts of its babies.

According to the website, here's an informal etymology:

This is one of those not so common words that came to English from French rather recently: World War I, to be exact. It comes from the French verb camoufler "disguise", which the French derived from Italian camuffare "disguise, trick", perhaps with the influence of French camouflet "snub", which was earlier "smoke blown in someone's face". Camouflet shows up in English (1836) referring to a bomb used to blow in the wall of a besieged room/building, the result being that the occupants are buried. Etymologist Robert K. Barnhart believes that the Italian camuffare comes from Medieval Latin muffula, meaning "manipulation".

With all this glut of camo, we can all go about sight unseen, I suppose, but then that would lead us even farther down that dark path that we already seem to be sticking to - the blind leading the blind.

Happy hide and go seek - I mean hunting - awl y'all.



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