Where is my future?
I know it must be here somewhere. It was promised to me – I was banking on it being here.
Where is my future?
Let me explain what I mean.
So I’m driving through Aromas the other day, a dinky little town in the middle of nowhere with one four-way stop sign and a cow crossing, and I receive a very important phone call. Now this is someone I’ve wanted to talk to for days, so I consider this call to be a very high priority. I figure, hey, I’m in the middle of the country… no buildings, no bridges, no bizarre technological interference. I’m excited.
But of course, I discover that in fact I can’t hear this person. I can hear maybe every other syllable. I discover that no, the middle of the country with no conceivable source of interference is not the place to take a cell phone call, because, God forbid, I’m between two barns and a Piggly Wiggly, and I got interference as if the good old boy in front of me on the highway is carrying a nuclear reactor in the bed of his F150.
So I have to holler into the phone – I have to assume she can hear me, as there is no actual conversating taking place, and I start shouting ‘I’m losing you… you’re breaking up … I … what? … No … I can barely hear you … I’m going to hang up, and try you again in just a minute!’ Now of course, little do I know, she’s on the other end of the line, shouting ‘What? No … I … you’re breaking up … What? I’m losing you … I’m going to hang up, and try you again in just a minute.’
So we both call each other back, and of course our lines are busy.
Thank God I have a cell phone.
So as I’ve discovered, cell phones are only of use when you’re in the middle of the city, in the heart of the industrialized First World, where the repeater stations and the antennae are abundant, where you don’t need a freaking cell because there’s a damn pay-phone on every corner, and you’re never more than twenty minutes from the office and your voicemail. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, where people might have trouble finding you, and you might find yourself broken down on the side of the road fighting off the guy from Deliverance with a tire iron, they’re less helpful than two cans of soup and a ball of string.
What they’re good for is wandering up and down the aisles of Blockbuster, talking with the folks at home, trying to choose between ‘Deuce Bigelow – Male Gigolo’ and ‘Faces of Death II: The Quickening’. I’m like freaking Captain Kirk – chatting with Scotty a thousand miles away, able to save the planet, get the girl and order a large pie with sausage all at the same time.
The damn cell phone is just one modern marvel that’s failed to live up to my childhood fantasies … just one of the broken promises that the shiny, humming, bubbly future of Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’ has failed to deliver on.
Where’s my personal robot assistant? Where’s my ray gun? Where’s my Orgasmatron? Where’s the happy, shiny future I was promised?
When I was a youngster, I was convinced that by the time I was old enough to drive, there would be no cars, ‘cuz everyone would be zipping around in hovercraft, and cars would be a thing of the past. It was exciting, knowing that loud, dirty American V8 would be replaced by some kind of George Jetson popcorn popper looking thing that folds out of a briefcase.
But here we are, 10 years later (okay, 20 years later. okay, 30 years later) and where’s my shiny popcorn popper briefcase car?
Nowhere. Instead, we got big, fat, gas guzzling SUV’s that tip over when you turn ‘em, and gas is freaking 3 bucks a gallon and rising.
Where’s my holodeck? Where’s my transmogrifier? Where’s the happy, shiny future I was promised?
Television was, of course, going to be the great equalizer one-day. We would all have access to important information, great accomplishments of science would be broadcast, and the atrocities of war would be made plain to the masses and peace would reign supreme.
What do I got? I got channel after channel of reality television, where I can watch people air their dirty laundry, cheat on their significant others, and puke on themselves with their faces blurred out while the Cops handcuff them to a fire hydrant for chasing their cousins under the motor home with a bottle of Jack ‘cuz “she’s got a purty mouf”.
The frightening devastation that brought an end to The War to End All Wars also brought the promise of cheap, clean, pure, American power pulsing from the smokeless stacks of the local Nook-ewe-lure powerplant.
What I got is paranoia, three-eyed fish, and the freedom to run my appliances after seven PM on alternate days starting with K.
Where’s my anti-gravity jumpsuit? Where’s my transporter? Where’s the happy, shiny future I was promised?
And the greatest scientific accomplishment televised to my generation, the landing of the first man on the moon, doesn’t get me the elegant space stations, romantic interstellar travel and the opportunity to Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before that I was told I would get… But it does give us all the opportunity to watch some vacuous boy-band American Idol with as many IQ points as he has pearly white teeth buy his way onto a space station with the extra twenty-million dollars he didn’t need and wasn’t interested in spending on a new well in Central America, a college scholarship program, or the Red Cross. It does get me some new satellites that guarantee me access to thirty more channels of reality television, game show reruns, and a network dedicated to the Wayans Brothers. And the ability, if all goes well, to send a package from Australia to New York so fast that it gets there at 5 o’clock the day before I sent it, for those times when it “absolutely, positively has to get there yesterday”.
Because we all know that delivering the latest Papa Roach CD to distributors in New York is a much higher priority than delivering on the promise of the future.
That’s it. That’s all I got.