Neil deGrasse Tyson Brings Radio to the Bronze Age

I convinced Neil deGrasse Tyson to learn Kushitic Akkadian. After some fierce debate about the ethics of temporal mechanics, I then sent him back in time to explain to Abraham how things really work. Then when God commanded Abraham to kill Isaac, Abe sat quietly in a grove and told the voice in his head to go piss up a rope, that he loved his son and would not kill him, no matter who was telling him. When Neil came back, little had changed. God had found some guy named Shmuel willing to do the deed, so the story came down to us as Shmuly and Iggy. Neil said we obviously needed some mass communication. So he brought radio to the Bronze Age. Then everybody learned to deal with the voices in their heads from voices in little boxes. But the world was still fucked up. Apparently Rush Limbaugh’s family goes way back.



Dakota Cats

We have been hiding because it has been very noisy.

We know where all the good hiding places are. Nobody owns them; you run for the nearest spot when you need to.

Usually it is very calm; we can go where we like. John and Mother are very nice to lie on. So is Sean, now that he has stopped petting us too hard and pulling our tails.

There is a lot of music. And laughing. Sometimes John plays the piano. Mostly he sits on the big bed and plays guitar. We like the big bed too. 

Mother is often down the hall talking to people while John is on the floor, singing to Sean and making him laugh. Other people come and go all the time. They play with us, too, and sometimes feed us.

We love the kitchen best. Not just because the food and water are there, but because it is warm and smells so good. It must have been fashioned from a late-afternoon sunbeam.

John likes bringing home surprises for Mother and Sean. One day he surprised us with a giant climbing tower covered in carpet and rope. He acted like he had found the best thing in the world. (He had.)

There used to be more of us. One day the one they called “Alice” (they never learn our real names) was scared by a loud noise and jumped out an open window. She did not come back. It was the only time we ever saw John cry. Sure, the three of them could be sad from time to time. But we all know how to fix that. This was different.

Today we came out from hiding. There is sadness, worse than when Alice left. We try to fix it, but this is different.

We have not seen John yet. He must be outside, though; we can hear him singing. People are singing with him. Maybe he found Alice.



A Note

I felt sorry for Mr. Sorensen, always away on business with three beautiful blonds at home. Jen was platinum, Abbie was strawberry, and yours varied from time to time.

I liked flirting with Abbie, telling her that she and I would go out when she was a little older if her sister didn’t mind.

I remember being alone in the house with Jen on night, and all I could think to do was teach her to how to play Stairway to Heaven on the piano until two in the morning. I thought I was being a gentleman; my mind rattled with her stories about her rapacious ex-boyfriend. If I could do it over, we’d play the piano naked.

Though I coveted your daughters, I think I loved you the most, and I think you knew. I was flattered that we were able to talk about anything, that I could tell you I was a virgin and you could tell me that you really shouldn’t have worn white. I was somehow honored that I could drop and join in your afternoon get-togethers with the neighborhood women. And grateful for your understanding when you found my friend Jeff and I parked in front of your house one night smelling of blackberry brandy and talking nonsense after Jen and I had broken up.

I remember coming by after school one afternoon to ask you to stop taking my side in the break-up, and your smiling remark that we should be careful lest the neighbors start calling you Mrs. Robinson.

I still think about what might have happened had I seen the movie.


Screen Shot 2021-08-21 at 5.30.52 PM

Originally appeared in the Winter 1994 edition of Columbia Journal.