LC Van Savage
Maybe Being There Wouldn't Have Been So Great
Which famous occasions in history would you like to have attended? Imagine, seeing important history being made right before our very eyeballs, although it's doubtful we would have clued in that important history was being made right then. We quite possibly could have even been a little bored.
For example, I sometimes think I'd like to have been present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I mean of all things famously American, that'd be right up there. But wait. Maybe not. I've been in Philadelphia in July, and if history lessons serve, the whole signing deal took from July 4th well into August. No AC back then of course, and I've read they kept the windows closed so their history-making conversations could not be overheard. But, those powdered wigs and stockings, and heavy, fancy male outfits with lace jabots, and Odorono not yet having been invented? No thanks, I'd pass. I'm more than thankful to those men for signing on our freedoms, but reading about it is fine.
Let's see. How about having been a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition as they traveled across the virginal USA? How exciting! Those waterfalls, that glorious, free unpaved scenery, the thrilling idea that a Northwest Passage was maybe just 'round the bend, experiencing experiences like no other before and not many after.
Well, maybe not. Mosquitoes. Blisters. Ticks. Having to kill dinner. Portage. I have simply never been a big fan of portage. Too much hiking. Jerky. Maybe wild turkey jerky. No showers anywhere except perhaps the rare skinny dipping in rivers with Sacagawea, hoping Meriweather and William were keeping a discreet distance. Nah. No appeal there. Reading about it is fine.
Let's see. I've got it! Walking on the moon with Neil Armstrong. What an experience! All that bouncing, leaving tracks for the first time ever (or so we've convinced ourselves,) hitting golfballs into forever. But wait. Those huge, heavy, white suits. A little restrictive, right? I mean they can't be all that comfortable, can they? And hot? I'll wager. Furthermore, I'm not so sure those things can ever get washed after they've been worn by a laboring, struggling space jockey who's been floating about retreading space-ship leaks a thousand miles in the sky. I seriously doubt they can be tossed into the washer/dryer. I wonder what becomes of them. And one thing more; I suspect one might have to learn a great many things in order to fly one of those rocketships, unless of course one is a kadjillionaire and could go stand-by. Honestly I just don't think I could learn about all those buttons and levers and Tang dispensers. No. Too hard. I think reading about all that is sufficient.
Hmmmm. Another? Well, it might have been nice to have been present that day when the wheel was invented. Of course it would have been I who did the inventing, but in the interest of making a good story, I'd go ahead and imagine some other woman devising it while I watched. Historians think the wheel was invented around 3500 BC in what is now either Iraq or Iran, which begs the question----never mind. Anyway, it was thought the wheel was brought to the American hemisphere by Euro settlers around the 17th century. Or to maybe Mexico in the 11th. Whatever and whenever, after some thought, I think I'm glad I wasn't there when that woman hacked the first wheel out of a big rock, or maybe a log, or perhaps some sun-hardened yak dung. I mean I can understand that she was pretty psyched when she realized what she had discovered, but I don't know. Seems like it really was the beginning of an awful lot of troublesome things, you know, like smog and all. No, I think it's better I just read about it.
In fact, reading about all of it and not being there seems the best thing.