Boldly Going

February 18, 2005

Technology has given us so many amazing things we didn’t even realize we’d ever need. A few years ago I heard a news story about a university student who couldn’t look people directly in the eye while talking to them because he was so busy checking his e-mail on a screen that hung in front of his left eye all the time. I realized then that a person’s need for that kind of technology and their actual importance are not only inversely proportional, but that such a person’s sole source of e-mail would be spam from companies offering products to improve his sex life. Needless to say he’d first have to figure out how to get a sex life in the first place.

But I digress. Technology has given us things we didn’t even care enough to dream about a few short years ago. If you’d told people in 1984 that within two decades they could program their phones to play the opening section of Pink Floyd’s "Comfortably Numb" every time someone called, they’d be so struck they’d say, "Wow. Great. Will we be able to carry these phones in our flying cars?" I didn’t even think about the possibilities of techno-fashion again until recently when I happened to catch a light bit of news on the evening broadcast one night. You know the type of segment: the anchor says something like, "And, in addition to the tragic loss of life, the resulting chemical spill will make the area uninhabitable for more than a century. Now here’s our own wacky Walter Wurlitzer with a bit of news that won’t make you want to wash down a hundred sleeping pills with a bottle of tequila."

Walter was interviewing a fashion designer who’d come up with the most amazing thing: t-shirts with flat computer screens embedded in them. Now I know you’re thinking, "Wow, where can I get a three-and-a-half pound t-shirt with a computer monitor in it?" Unfortunately before one of the models hit Walter in the face with a pie pan filled with non-dairy whipped topping he explained that the t-shirts aren’t on the market yet. You can still provide free advertising to companies by buying a t-shirt or jacket or sneakers with a logo on them, but being able to be a walking commercial broadcasting station is still a few years away. The exciting thing, for me anyway, is the potential for this new technology to help me out in that most difficult of modern situations: the time when I can’t think of a snappy comeback to something stupid or insulting. Sure, I can wear a t-shirt that says, "You lookin’ at me?", or something witty and urbane like, "Is that your face or did your neck throw up?" But what about those situations when you desperately want to nail somebody with a smart remark but don’t think of one until about three months later? Right now we can’t all be Oscar Wilde or Winston Churchill, but imagine if technology made it possible. Imagine a computer embedded in your shirt that will search for an appropriate comeback for any given situation. Imagine that, say, someone bumps into you and says, "Pardon me," and your shirt will immediately pipe up with, "Yes, Madam, and you are ugly, but in the morning I shall be sober!" That’ll really nail that guy. Unfortunately you probably won’t get to enjoy his response because you’ll be too busy checking your e-mail, or trying to figure out how to get a sex life.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

A physician claims these are actual comments from his patients made while he was performing colonoscopies:

1. "Take it easy, Doc, you’re boldly going where no man has gone before."

2. "Find Amelia Earhart yet?"

3. "Can you hear me NOW?"

4. "Oh boy, that was sphincterrific!"

5. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

6. "You know, in Alabama, we’re now legally married."

7. "Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?"

8. "You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out. You do the Hokey Pokey…."

9. "Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!"

10. "If your hand doesn’t fit, you must acquit!"

11. "Hey, Doc, let me know if you find my dignity."

12. "You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?"

13. "Could you write me a note for my wife, saying that my head isn’t, in fact, up there?"

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