A deer, cow, sheep, antelope and giraffe walk into a restaurant. They find a booth table and sit down. After about five minutes, a waiter comes to take their order. The sheep and antelope order some grass, the giraffe some leaves and the deer some fruit. It’s the cow’s turn to order.
“Oh, this is going to be good,” says the waiter to himself, smiling.
There is a sharp inhale from the party of five as the cow narrows her eyes, looking at the waiter, her lips slightly parted in disbelief. In tones reminiscent of a mother whose child has just used a very naughty word, she says, viscously, “Excuse me?” The rest of the party is avoiding making eye contact with the cow, the waiter and each other. The giraffe opens his menu again, despite having already ordered.
The waiter doesn’t look phased. Without missing a beat, he says, “Your order, ma’am?” The cow isn’t having any of this.
“No, don’t ma’am me, son. What exactly is going to be good about this?” Without even thinking, the waiter casts his eyes on the cow’s abdomen before quickly returning to make eye contact. “Not this again. Four stomachs – is that what you think?” She sticks out her bottom lip, raises her hardly distinguishable eyebrows and nods her head slowly. The waiter’s somewhat flared nostrils belie his calm demeanor.
“Your order, ma’am?” He can feel the gaze of customers at nearby tables as they take an interest in whatever is happening. The cow is in disbelief at his persistence. The rest of the party are now exchanging brief glances, silently urging one another to step in; they’ve been through this before. Finally, the sheep, rolling her eyes, clears her throat.
“Four compartments,” says the sheep. “One stomach, four compartments. And it’s not just cows; all of us at this table have four compartments. So if you mean to imply that my dear friend here is going to order a humourously large amount on the basis of her digestive system…” The cow puts her hoof on the sheep’s shoulder to silence her. She stands up. After looking at each other to confirm their action, the rest of the party follows suit.
As they’re about to leave, the waiter says to the maitre d’, who’s struggling to think of a way to rectify the disastrous situation, “The stomachs aren’t even the worst part. It’s the regurgitation and cud. Disgusting.” The antelope stops in his tracks, turns around, and holds up his hoof to point at the waiter.
“Your service is disgusting. We’re going to make sure that you don’t receive the patronage of any ruminants ever again!” he shouts, making sure the rest of the customers can hear him clearly. The party of five leaves.
In a far corner, a table of one has been watching thoughtfully. It’s Noam Chomsky. He stands up slowly and deliberately before walking past the waiters.
“Mr Chomsky, can I…” the maitre d’ starts.
“You heard them. Ever again!” Noam leaves the restaurant.
The English Oxford Living Dictionaries online defines “ruminant” as “an even-toed ungulate mammal that chews the cud regurgitated from its rumen”. It can also mean “a contemplative person; a person given to meditation”.