I Think About This a Lot is a series dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds.
As of late, my reaction to the news can best be described as that new emoji face where both halves have different agendas. It’s labeled as “Drunk Face” a.k.a. “Woozy Face,” but I prefer the more rudimentary technical description, “face with uneven eyes and wavy mouth.” It is the perfect iconography of the endless emotional spiral that results from the endless barrage of information.
The internet as a real-time update feed is a comfortably warm cesspool of all the words, images, soundbites, clips, GIFs, and memes you ever wanted, as well as all the ones you absolutely did not. So whenever I get overwhelmed by it (constantly, right this very moment), I regress to my most basic animal need: animals. Whether it’s a panda falling into a leaf pile, a hedgehog eating a tiny burrito, or a Schnauzer wearing glasses leafing through a pamphlet on how to recycle properly, they all seem to temporarily suppress the yowling of the existential maw by saying “Here! Look at the soft one do the thing.”
That’s why when I first saw this headline way back in 2013, “Goat ‘Only Respects One Man,’ Refuses to Come Down From Roof,” I felt as if I was having a religious experience. It’s still the best headline that I’ve ever read and I will absolutely accept no substitutes. Let me break down its power for you. First of all, it’s a news headline about an animal. That already places it far ahead of any rival contenders. Give me a goat any day over Kellyanne Conway, or even somebody less divisive, like Mr. Clean.
Second, the “Only Respects One Man” part is set off in quotes. You see what’s happening here? It implies that someone said that! But as far as we can gather, only two parties are involved: a goat and a man. So either the goat said it or the man said it. But if the man said it, it wouldn’t be objective reporting, which leads one to conclude: the goat definitely said it. It speaks for itself, both the statement and the goat.
Nope, wait, okay, I actually finally read the article, and it seems a helpful neighbor said it. Needless to say, this is the breaking news I need to know, that there is a town somewhere where your neighbor knows about the power dynamics at play in the life of the goat next door. Yes, I’ve been coasting off the high of this headline for six years now without bothering to learn the full story, such is its power.
That brings us to the third part of this story. The goat is on the roof. That’s the story here. He’s on the roof. He refuses to come down. Why does he refuse to come down? Because he only respects one man. The police shouldn’t have even bothered showing up to investigate, because Cocoa (at last, I learned our hero’s name!) wasn’t budging. The cops had to wait for Cocoa’s guardian, whom Cocoa holds in high regard, to come home before he would literally stand down. It shouldn’t be illegal to be a goat on a roof though. I mean, it’s Oregon! Right, I forgot to tell you, this was in Oregon. Also, I’m guessing there are no specific laws there against this sort of thing, nor should there be.
In my head, when I think about this headline, I call it the G.O.A.T. Headline. That’s right, the word “goat” happens to be an acronym for “greatest of all time.” Now I know goats get a bad rap what with the devil symbolism slash cloven hooves of it all, but boy howdy, did they full-force rebrand with this flex of an acronym.
So now, when I read the news, in the back of my head, I go searching, searching for something that comes even close to this headline. To me, it’s untouchable. Just like Cocoa was that fine Oregon day, standing atop a suburban utopia, surveying his principles, finding his line, taking a stand, for reasons we couldn’t even possibly dream.