A few years ago I read a Sci-Fi story set in the next millennium about a paleontologist who sifts through the rubble of what was once said to be New York City. He stumbles upon a pay toilet and from that single artifact reconstructs our entire civilization.
Even residue from the stomachs of ancient humans offers sufficient evidence of life style and bone structure so that a face can be re-imagined. We can spot a devout vegan when we see one.
This got me thinking about a few relics in our midst and how they might reveal our society to future scientists.Suppose they discovered a couple of bowling balls and a basketball court. What could they possibly make of this?
How could they reconcile hunger and obesity? What would they think of Rush, Sarah and other Palinoids alongside an issue of Scientific American? Did these people in the early 21st century live in the Dark Ages or a rather advanced culture? Very vexing.
Don't get me started.
Ok, I promise not to go there.
Consider how the corner has changed in our brief passage of years. First there was the empty lot which became a three week forest of Christmas trees. When that was cleared kids met new kids over boulders and purees or looked for pennies in the broken glass.
Soon a Gulf sign went up with pumps selling gas for 20 cents a gallon. I only went there for air to blow up my football. In came the corner drugstore with its pharmacy breath. An intersection deeply inhaled by two people spooning a strawberry sundae.
Turn around and the corner was a bank, and fast-food chain after that; life on-the-go. They're all gone now. Even Jiffy Lube has slipped away. Starbucks has taken over the lot. Same small change, plenty of mugs and strangers waiting behind newspapers, alone, with their nutmeg dusted frappaccinos.
How will we be seen in the natural history museum of the distant future? Coffee-worshippers with shards of marbles, a few coins, particles of crude drugs embedded in marshmallow, DNA of ketchup and an oil slick. What strange people we must have been.