The Papa Files
by VINCENT CARDEGIN
Award Winning Columnist
When I was a kid, 1920 was ancient history, as was the decade of my parents’ birth, the 30s. Likewise for the 40s and 50s. Films of those times fascinated me, probably much like early explorers viewed the artwork on the walls of Egyptian temples and tombs. Now in 2020, I wonder if my grandkids, who will no doubt live to see the 22nd century, might view my time just as olden. Probably, but because of modern recording devices, they won’t be as mystified or impressed. Color HD will most likely confuse them about exactly when something happened. In the early 90s, my kids thought we were still going to the moon after we watched a documentary about it. They were surprised and disappointed when I explained that such exploration ended more than ten years before they were born.
I was born mid-last-century. I don’t like how that sounds, but here I am. Since I can’t go back in time, I must make the best of going forward. Not sure what I’m supposed to do at 772 months old. From trailers of movies and other advertisements, I’m aware of the “Bucket List,” but none of the lists I’ve heard and read about interest me. There is one thing I’d like to experience before I “kick the bucket,” and that’s to visit the southern hemisphere. Never been there.
But I don’t want to stay at resorts and cavort on beaches. I want to find fossils, mainly in South America and Australia, both archeologically and paleontologically. I’m easy that way. Ancient humans, dinosaurs, the fauna after the K-T boundary is what interests me, studying their remains. I have long thought that I should have taken courses in comparative anatomy. Hey, I recently spotted the same butter dish my daughter bought for us sitting in the background of an episode of The Bang Theory, and a long time ago I determined, from the pattern in the wallpaper and what looks like dirt in the light covers, that the actors were walking up and down the stairs—there’s just one level, not four.
However, I’m no longer sure I want to dig for the remnants of past ages, excavating with pocket knives and other such tools, and striking slabs of shale with a rock hammer. My knees are feeling pretty good right now, mostly because I’ve lately trained myself to hunker on my haunches instead of kneeling when looking for something on the bottom shelves of cabinets, but even that is not wholly comfortable and reminds me too much of squat-thrusts in basic training.
I’d rather sit as a technician in a lab with magnifying loops, a small pneumonic chisel, and a vacuum hood right above me—to not only remove rock dust but also cigarette smoke—and clean away the rocky graves of man and beast. Since that’s not going to happen, I’ll stick with observing the more current realms of anthropology at home.
Between us, my wife and I have a long list of things that need to be done around the house and in the yard, though her part of the list is more like “should,” while my part is more like “if I don’t do it, nothing will really change.” Mathematically our sets join only to create a sliver of commonality like a housecat’s eye in broad daylight. Still, I suppose I should type the chores and tasks, print the document, and stick it with a magnet on the side of the refrigerator next to my Need list, No More list, and the daily-changing grocery list. That’s my real bucket list, I suppose, though I think I’ll label it Tomorrow Things.