Twenty-five years ago, I had no assurances I would live to reach sixty-three years of age. Nor did I have such assurances five years ago or even one year ago. The absence of assurances notwithstanding, I had expectations. And they’ve been met, albeit with some adjustments and difficulties. I have no assurances I’ll reach sixty-four, though if I’m alive come the end of October, that expectation will have been met.
A lot can change in twenty-five years. George H.W. Bush was President in 1992. Bill Clinton was running for the job. In the years since, Clinton won the election and then repeated his victory. And he was impeached, thanks to his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and lying about it. George W. Bush stumbled into office, twice, and then Barrack Obama twice won the office. The twin towers fell to terrorism. Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, then was found guilty of, among other things, armed robbery. Terry Nichols bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and paid for his crime with his life. North Korea tested its first nuclear device. NASA revealed evidence of water on Mars. The American Episcopal Church became the first church to approve a rite for blessing gay marriages. One hundred ninety-five nations signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. I took a short sabbatical that turned into a longer sabbatical that turned into retirement. The last original “Peanuts” cartoon appeared in newspapers after the death of the creator, Charles Schultz. China ended its one-child policy. The Columbine high school massacre took place. The first smartphone was sold. Saturn Corporation sold its last car and went out of business. Oldsmobile went out of business. Corporations, granted personhood by the Supreme Court, stole elections.
Now, I consider whether, twenty-five years hence, I will be in a position to write about my lack of assurances and my expectations. In twenty-five years, I would be approaching my eighty-ninth birthday. Considering that my father died at eighty-one and my mother died at seventy-eight, the odds are not in my favor. But if I were to be alive then, in 2042, I would have witnessed the discovery of intelligent life on multiple planets in nearby galaxies. I would have seen the creation of new forms of collectivism, in which large groups of people opt out of society as we know it today in favor of self-rule without the encumbrances of structured society. Cars would have long-since been abandoned in favor of transportation cyborgs, hybrids between horses and gyroscopes with comfortable seating. Chiggers would have been eradicated, replaced in the insect food chain by harmless creatures whose only desire and only purpose is to be food. Euthanasia, adopted worldwide as the only means of human death following the advent of drugs that induce self-healing of all injuries and ailments, would be mandatory. Crime would have been eliminated by making almost all behaviors legal; without the prohibitions on behaviors we deem criminal today, the incentive to break the rules would have disappeared, thereby reducing such behaviors to negligible levels. Cutting in line in grocery stores would be the only criminal act, punishable by permanent paralysis and periodic public floggings. Certain sea creatures—including dolphins, starfish, and shrimp—would have evolved to the extent that they live on land.
A few years short of 2042, on my eighty-sixth birthday, I will share a bottle of New Zealand wine with two dolphins and a shrimp; this gathering will take place in The Canadian Brewhouse in Timberlea, Alberta (incredibly, it will still be there), a suburb of Fort McMurray. We will, of course, enjoy an order of Montreal smoked meat poutine with our wine. Because bigotry has no expiration date, a burly tourist from the lower forty-eight, a guy named Scud Portman, will shout to my companions, “Hey, get out of here and go back where you came from! I don’t want no seafood where I eat my steak!” With one quick slip of her tail, Swoop Westerman (she’s the female of the dolphin pair) will send Scud Portman to his early demise (he didn’t take the self-healing drug). His corpse will be disposed of with the rest of the refuse from the kitchen and we will continue enjoying our repast. An African eel, watching the engagement from a corner booth, will approach us. “Hello, I’m Slither Cone and I just wanted to say I was impressed with the way you handled that jerk. Can I buy your dinner?” We will decline, of course, but will invite her to join us, which she will. The bartender, a retired lumberjack named Brandon Sawman, will send over another bottle of wine with a note attached; it will say ‘This bottle of wine is on me. Here’s to brotherly love.’ Soon, the entire place will be alive with joyous expressions of decency and kindness, wine and hard liquor serving as the lubricants to said environment. Suddenly, a Royal Canadian Mounty, Dutch Boyle, will run into the place and yell, “There’s a party on the highway! Everyone’s invited!” Naturally, the place will empty quickly as we jump on our transportation cyborgs and head for the highway. A week later, upon returning to The Canadian Brewhouse, I will be asked to settle the bill that I inadvertently walked the week before. And I will. Because it was never my intent to steal from the owners of such a happy place. Of course, this entire scenario depends on my survival . It sounds like so much fun I feel I have an added incentive to live to see it.