Saturday, January 2, 2016


Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay

In a previous post, I used the phrase gut first, brain later. I explained that this was me vastly oversimplifying a concept accepted by mainstream science. We react emotionally and viscerally first, rationally (hopefully) later. Assuming you accept the validity of the theory of evolution, this makes perfect sense. If you don't, well... God bless us, everyone.

It's a typical day in the stone age. Og and the boys are out and about hunting. Marge and the girls are gathering -- and/or taking care of the kids, and/or doing the laundry, and/or cooking and cleaning, and/or attending a Rockerware party, and/or...

Now, Og and the boys are having a slow day and a friendly but animated argument has broken out about last nights rockball game. It started because Ug, who had won a bet with Og, began teasing Og about the fact that every time Og loses a rockball bet he rants about the poor quality of the officiating in the NRL.

They're walking through a wooded area, and not paying attention, when they stroll into a clearing and unexpectedly encounter a band of Bigfeets entering the clearing at the exact same moment from the opposite direction.

Bam, fight or flight time baby.

The homo sapiens adrenal glands shift into overdrive faster than the Billary can spin out a lie to explain why they _____ (insert your favorite scandal here). The Bigfeet's adrenal glands probably do the same. Well, that's assuming they have adrenal glands. For some reason, scientists have been unable to compile much in the way of reliable data on them.

Actually, there are only two facts that everyone seems to agree on. First, Bigfeets somehow emit a reality distortion field that has the curious effect of making any photographs or video footage of them appear as though they are at least a couple of hundred yards away. Also, the image captured always looks grainy, shaky and poorly lit.

Second, that they stink. It would seem that the latter feature would not serve them well, not now, or not when Fred and Barney roamed the Earth. As to the first, there's much controversy and speculation because it's hard to say with any certainty what the specific effects of the reality distortion field are on anything or anyone other than the technology mentioned above.

Meanwhile, back in the clearing...

The homo sapiens are having the exact same reaction they would've had upon suddenly and unexpectedly encountering a wooly mammoth with a tuskache or a brace of Jehovah Witnesses -- fight or flight.

But suppose their instinctual reaction had been to organize a nonprofit to raise money to fight tusk decay. Or suppose, upon encountering a band of bigfeet their instinctual reaction was to quickly but discretely dab a bit of cologne under each nostril, smile, and say something like, "Nice coat! I'll bet that thing keeps ya' warm! Say, if you guys are up for a bit of species to species interaction there's a watering hole at the terminus of that path over there where we can get a cold one. First round's on us!"

We (homo sapiens) might not exist, and this blog might be authored by a Bigfoot.

We like to think that we're past all that, that we would choose to react via some form of the latter scenario, and we just might. But that's just because we live (most of us anyway) in a different milieu than Og, Ug, and the boys.

If we're waiting at a bus stop in our comfortable and reasonably safe 'burb or small town, or even if we should meet a Bigfoot in the large city we live in or commute to every day, we know that, rationally, a Bigfoot (think, oh Idunno, big scary smelly homeless mildly aggressive panhandler?) is unlikely to attack and kill us.

But she might.

Our time tested fight or flight app will launch, but we may not even notice unless things get ugly and it shuts down all of our other apps and ratchets us up to survival mode.

Or, perhaps we don't notice it because it's a background program that never shuts down anymore. Perhaps it's running all the time, at least at a low level, and that's why we don't notice it unless/until things get stupid. Perhaps this is one of the many side effects of a high-speed informationally overloaded life.

Perhaps this is why Xanax is the most prescribed psychiatric drug in the USA.

Walking into the lobby of the ginormous highrise we work in, the app in question fires up again as we approach the elevators. Ug, Og, and the boys had to think twice before chasing lunch into a cave because God only knew what might be lurking in the darkness.

So, we enter the crowded but blessedly well-lit elevator full of strangers (potential threats one and all), automatically check for the most defensible spot and face forward like everyone else to avoid making eye contact. And just as the door to the cave/coffin starts to close (gulp!) someone yells, in a friendly voice, "Hold the elevator, please!"

Somebody helpfully sticks their arm out, the doors reverse direction, and the big scary smelly homeless mildly aggressive panhandler nimbly steps into the cave/coffin.

She doesn't face forward.

Grinning from ear to ear she scans the cave/coffin like a politician or someone recently recruited by Amway and makes eye contact with as many people as possible. As the elevator starts to ascend she says, "Oops, my bad!" and then turns around and presses the button for every - single - floor. She turns around again and resumes grinning and scanning.

You can almost smell the adrenalin.

When the elevator stops on the second floor a startled receptionist witnesses everyone on a crowded elevator car trying to exit simultaneously. They all make a beeline to his desk, including our new friend, who keeps cheerfully repeating, "Where's the party?" as she looks around inquisitively. They silently ask the receptionist to call security with their eyes and facial expressions.

He's on it.

Have an OK day.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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