Columns, Opinion

FORSTER, GLANDER AND SAUER: The past and the furious

We, the three-headed dachshund that is ThingFight, are afraid of almost everyone. Authority figures, people handing out Honest Tea, friends motioning to give us high-fives . . . you name it, we are afraid of it. When we feel threatened we often exercise the classic grade-school threat, ‘My great-grandparents can beat up your future great-grandchildren. Theoretically.’ It’s rated at a threatliness level of ‘mauve,’ and it’s kept bullies and Greenpeace recruiters at bay so far, but the concept behind it has never been put to the test. For years, the Past has tried to shake hands with the Future in a compromise we call ‘the Present,’ but for the sake of our readership, we’ve decided to shred the peace treaty in the proverbial (or is it preverbal?) paper shredder and wonder: What if they fought?

The Past is the universe’s way of saying, ‘I told you so.’ The sweat stains on your deodorant-less pits. The garlic seeping out of your pores after a garlic-infused pizza on garlic bread with garlic slice topping. The collective scream of a set of quintuplets. Your quintuplets. And now, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and robotic carrier pigeons, your embarrassing past is permanent and public. While regrettable, it is at least reliable. Save for a few of history’s mysteries, we know without a doubt what happened; even a Boston College history major is bound to ‘get the gist of it.’ The possibilities abound in the Future, although it always seems to be letting us down. Remember how we were promised that by 1984 we would have government surveillance, doublespeak and Big Brother (the omnipresent overlord, not the sophisticated television program)? Instead, we got ‘Footloose.’ But we forgave the Future and gave it another shot, asking only that by 2001 we could have luxury space travel, meals in pill form and the monolith (now marketed as the iPod Shuffle). Instead, we got ‘Spy Kids,’ a critically acclaimed remake of ‘Footloose.’

Although we may know so much about the Past, we have to realize that the Past, with its dinosaurs, steamboats and old people, is not nearly as exciting as the Future, with its robo-dinosaurs, speamboats (space steamboats) and Florida-themed moon colonies where they keep the old people. Twelve or more years of history class? Boring. That one class where a weird substitute teacher taught you to make tinfoil hats because you’d need them in 2045 to signal the mothership? Awesome. The History Channel? Probably really good for our brains, but so boring we forgot what this column was even about for a minute. The Sci-Fi channel? ‘Nuff said. But if you enjoy either of these channels too much you’ll probably live with your parents until way after the mothership shows up.

Since Greek references seem to be in fashion recently, let’s remember the titans. Epimetheus and Prometheus, that is. The former, a representative of human hindsight and foolishness, and the latter, possessing forethought and a mean throwing arm. In myth, Prometheus’ careful planning for what the Future might hold brought Man fire, ‘Pulp Fiction,’ fire drills and Planned Parenthood. Epimetheus and his innate backpedalling brought us belated birthday cards, ‘Memento’ and stimulus packages. While each of their contributions is admittedly inconsequential to our existence, their fates may be accommodatingly telling. Prometheus was aware of the Future, a characteristic that scored him a hookup with the sexy and curious Pandora, while Epimetheus’ regrets somehow prompted Zeus to strap him to a rock and have an eagle eat his liver.

Now, if Greece doesn’t cut it for you, lousy with its olive oil and Olympic flames, consider famous philosopher Epicurus, named after his witch doctor-like ability to procure all things epic. He believed that we have no reason to blame death for preventing us to live further into the Future, just as we don’t blame birth for preventing us to be born further into the Past. While we’d love to hypothesize what it would be like to be born in the highly romanticized bubonic plague era or live into a generation that has finally found out what the hell is going on with ‘Lost,’ we’re going to drop this sub-point while we’re ahead and save it for our anticipated ‘Pre-Birth vs. Post-Death’ column, soon to be part of your future past.

We’ll get lost in our own time machine if we go on for too much longer, so we need to choose a winner. Now, we hate to get all nostalgic on you, but our most memorable contestant is the Past, and is therefore our winner. At the beginning of the column you may have been looking forward to the Future. But it’s too late to think about how great this week’s ThingFight will be, because now all you can do is think about how disappointing this week’s ThingFight was.

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