San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Hopeless Case

Blow, blow thou winter
Thou art not so cold as
Man’s ingratitude
The moon was new, a mere sliver of silver playing tag with the racing clouds, and Crotchett was at the nadir of his bipolar excursion, moaning about the government, the terrorists and his fear of extinction.
“Crotchett,” I yelled, “enough already! I’ve listened to your sniveling for a week  now, and I’ve reached my limit! One more word out of you, and I’ll drop you off in Afghanistan, where they appreciate the finer things in life, like bread, water and a tin roof over their heads.”
Crotchett burped, which I took to mean agreement, so I went on: “You are here only because your parents obeyed the Great Imperative to increase and multiply, but you are lucky to be alive at the very peak of human achievement.
“You are the incredibly fortunate product of a million years of trial and error, surrounded by electronic servants created to do your bidding. You can speak to anyone, anywhere in the world. You have a thousand TV programs to alleviate your boredom and a hundred different TV dinners to satisfy your hunger. Within 24 hours you can be anywhere else in the world that strikes your fancy, at very reasonable cost. On the Net you can command the accumulated knowledge of the ages, and on your GPS you can find out where you are to the nearest yard. Has anyone ever had it so good?”
Crotchett broke wind and, encouraged, I continued: “And let me tell you something else: You are living on borrowed time, courtesy of a medical miracle that can keep you alive even when you’re dead. You were developed only to fulfill the Great Imperative, following which you were supposed to return to the dust from which you came, to be utterly forgotten.
“But the design was too good, and here you are decades after you shot your last wad, with a host of records: photographs, film, discs, even 3-D images to tell your descendants what kind of a man you were and what you did to give them the opportunity of a lifetime. Even the pharaohs never got that far.
“And yet, with all those wonderful memories, all you can do is sit here and whine that you have been betrayed. Betrayed? Why, you have been given what no man ever had  before, yet you reject it as worthless.” Crotchett shifted on to the other cheek, so I resumed: “Crotchett, you are an ungrateful louse, and if there were such a thing as hell you would surely be roasting in it right now.
But fortunately for you, just a few of your molecules will live on in your children’s children until finally your kind will be replaced by a more deserving phylum, maybe the dolphins, which will know how to appreciate what it has been given.”
Crotchett shifted back in his motorized wheelchair onto the original cheek and drew his shawl closer about his withered frame.
“Bullshit,” he said, so I left him there and went to look for more congenial company.

Comments are closed.