Sunday, December 30, 2018
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
I can shovel my own damn sidewalk, thank you very much! You may wonder why every pre-teen in the neighborhood suddenly wants to ring my doorbell and offer me "help" with the snow. It's not the first snow of the year, and I've been out there plenty of times on my own already. And where were they then? Sending dirty pictures on the internet, no doubt! But I know what's going on here. Now it's winter break, and all these damn kids are driving their parents crazy. "What ever shall with do with our little hellians," they wonder... "I know! Let's foist them off on the old guy!" So here they come, one by one, looking to tick off the volunteering box on their college applications. Six years until they apply, but their expensive private tutors have told them they should start logging their hours now and prepping for the ACT. I wouldn't mind so much if I could just give them 5 bucks and send them on their way. But no, their parents have told them not to take my money. They just want to help and spend a little "quality time" with me. Which means that I have to invite them in, pretend to be grateful, give them cocoa, and regale them with made up stories about what the world was like "in my day." "Really, mister? I didn't know you had to eat bark off of trees to survive!" "Damn straight, Johnny! Now when does school start up again?" And if I don't, all those parents have their little passive aggressive ways of exacting revenge. They will park their SUV in front of my house for days at a time, let their schnauzer crap on my lawn (I'm watching you, Margaret!), or hammer those stupid little wooden faces into their trees at an angle that I can't avoid when looking out my front window. Anyway, it won't always be like this. As Kolbert clearly and elegantly describes, we are totally fucking up the world, and soon snow at this latitude will be a thing of the past. It will be a tropical paradise around here, and just imagine what that will do for my property value! We bought this house for 17,000 dollars, and thanks to climate change, it will be a gold mine. That's right - global warming can't come fast enough for me. And I mean that quite literally, because it can't possibly come fast enough for me to reap the benefits before I die. So some other schmo will inevitably get my house and cash in on the misfortune of the rest of the world, and it really chaps my hide that it won't be me. Story of my life, I guess. The other great thing about this book is that I finally understand the scientific evidence behind the asteroid theory of dinosaur extinction. When I think about the number of dinner parties at which I could have used that information, it makes me want to weep into my gimlet.