I’ve fallen miserably short of many of my goals this year, so I decided to try and jump-start the new year by riding in to work this morning. I really need the exercise, and at least it’s not Africa hot in Texas right now. (But today’s temperatures will be getting up into the 70s. You call this Winter?)
So at 7:30, clad in space-age fabrics and astride a sleek aluminium steed, I began the ten-mile trek into work. My backpack contained a change of clothes, various medications, spare change, some cool nails I found on the road yesterday, a half-knit hat in bright pink wool, and a small bucket of pozole. Oh, and my wallet and keys.
As I rode in and watched the red sun rising under a veil of clouds across the airport tarmac, I wondered what information I carried about myself, my society, and my planet at that particular moment. Let’s say the Vogon fleet were to come through just now and vaporize the Earth. Let us further assume that by some miracle, the little scrap of pavement I was riding across managed to survive, and me and my bike and backpack went spinning off into infinity, frozen solid and preserved for all time. If some passing spacecruiser were to pull me into its airlock, what would the beings on board make of me? Would they find me repulsive, intriguing, or merely chewy?
Would any of them finish the hat? If they did, would they knit English or Continental? Or Andromedian? If it was too small, would they have the technology to duplicate the dye lot? I mean, mastery of space travel does not necessarily indicate proficiency in the fiber arts. You seen the stuff astronauts wear?
Would they be confused by the contrast between the primitive Lamb’s Pride Bulky in my backpack and the Gore-Tex(TM) in my jacket?
Scene: Interior of a Spaceship
Melkron: Hey, Jizzwatt. Check this out.
Jizzwatt: Is that the floater from airlock 5?
Melkron: Yup. Look at the body covering.
Jizzwatt: Is that Gore-Tex(TM)? Pretty pimp for an iceman.
Melkron: I’m not sure it was his. I think it might have been some kind of ceremonial garb that his tribe put on him before space burial.* Look in the bag.
Jizzwatt: Oooh, pretty. Um, what is it?
Melkron: Not sure. The polyanalyzer says it’s some kind of protein fiber.
Jizzwatt: Some kind of food, perhaps?
Melkron: I don’t think so. His primitive digestive system probably couldn’t break it down. He’s only got one stomach.
* This is of course a loose translation from the Andromedian, conveying the idea of laying a body to rest, not literal burial. You can’t very well bury someone in a vacuum now can you?
(I have not been getting a lot of sleep lately.)