Finding my skull
[The curtain rises. Hamlet stands stage center.]
I ask to be or not to be,
A rogue or peasant slave is what you see;
A boy who loved his mother’s knee,
And so I ask to be or not to be.
So here’s my plea, I beg of you,
And say you see a little hope for me.
To fight or flee, to fight or flee,
I ask myself to be or not to be.
–Hamlet, as performed by Gilligan, in another vain attempt to be rescued from the island
A few hundred years from now, maybe more – maybe less, I imagine there is a chance that some future anthropologist will come across my humble little skull. It would be sometime after the Third World War, obviously, and humans will be scrambling desperately to reconstruct their knowledge of the past, including the recent past that was so suddenly forgotten.
I can’t help but spend a lot of my free time sitting around and wondering about what they’ll think as they hold my skull within their grasp and study it. What will my skull say to them? (I mean other than the subcutaneous phrase I had chiseled into my mandible that says, “Eat my ass.” Tattoos are so epidermal.)
Perhaps they look inside and say, “You got a lot of carbon scoring here. Looks like you boys have seen a lot of action.” That would be a spectacularly weird thing to say, but even so, I do hope they say it.
More likely they’ll study the bones of my skull for clues to how I lived my life. “Look here,” one anthropologist will say to another. “This little fella obviously predates the HCR* era. Note the utter lack of medical attention as seen here, here and here.” (No doubt some pointing will be involved.)
“And here, on the frontal bone, note these strange markings. Certainly no modern medical instrument made those scrapes. It’s almost as if they were made by a crude cutting instrument of some sort, perhaps an arrowhead chiseled from stone or the edge of an old can of Red Bull. Unfortunately we’ll never know what sort of injury led to an operation like this.”
“Note there are more markings back here, on the occipital bone, just below the parietal. If it wasn’t so unlikely, I’d say this fellow was carried here, to Mount St. Helens Island, by some sort of carrion bird. Either that or someone attacked him from behind with a kabob, which may very well be the manner of his demise.”
“So, what else can you tell me about him?” one will ask the other.
“Our little friend here was a great thinker and was also married. He was, however, extremely angry. And he was from a lower caste, most likely a serf, peasant, rogue or slave.”
“Wow. This here skull tells you all that? Bullshit!”
“Observe, knave! Note this worn down area on the mandible. This fellow stroked his chin a lot, wearing down the bone. Obviously he did a lot of heavy thinking. And note these light markings on the top of the parietal bone. Those markings were caused by scratching his head, which clearly indicates marriage. The carbon scoring on the inside that we noted earlier indicates strong emotional responses. Only intense feelings of anger can make those types of marks. Lastly, note the slight warping of the temporal bones. That was caused by extreme clenching of the jaw, which was caused by stress. The man clearly did not enjoy a life of leisure.”
“I know, I know. Now prepare to assist me with cooking this thing down. I’m hungry. Let’s eat!
I feel good about knowing that I’ll still be telling stories long after I’m gone.
YouTube: Here’s the link to see Gilligan singing. It might get pulled down by YouTube, though.
* Health Care Reform.
Please enjoy this musical pairing that has been selected by our chef for this post:
Elvis Presley – A Hundred Years From Now