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dollar bread and flying cars

When I was about ten years old, I grabbed a book off my aunt's shelf in order to relieve the boredom of listening to a bunch of old ladies (they were like, 30!) play Pinochle.

I don't remember the title of the book. It was a musty smelling paperback with yellowed pages and a bent cover. It was a book of predictions.

This was the early 70's. I don't know when the book itself was written, but it had the look and feel of something old.

I laughed when I read some of the predictions.

Bread would be a dollar a loaf! Gas would be over a dollar a gallon!

cloud city, just like I pictured it!Ok, I had no idea about economics at that point so, for someone who was given two dollars to run down to the store for bread, cigarettes and milk and still had change leftover for Bazooka gum, these prices seemed like science-fiction.

Yet I gaped in awe at the rest of the predictions.

Man will fly! Cars would have wings! We would live underwater and on the moon! We could travel, Star-Trek like, to other countries in the blink of an eye!

I had no problem believing that man could fly, yet I couldn't get my mind around the idea of paying a dollar for bread.

So I waited. I waited for the underwater cities and the milk that would never go bad and the pills you could take instead of eating. I waited for hovercrafts and machines that would give me superhero powers and beds that would make themselves.

Right after I finished the book of predictions that day, I made my way into my aunt's kitchen where the women were playing cards and regaled them with visions of the future. Their eyes gleamed at the idea of super powered kitchen that would do all the work for you, ovens that baked everything to perfection, robots that would do your laundry. They giggled at the idea of a hologram Elvis entertaining you in your living room.

And they waited. They waited for Rosie the Robot and Elvis the hip-shaking hologram.

So what happened to all these things? Where did the future go? Why doesn't the world look like Cloud City? Why is it that the only predictions to come true from that dog-eared book were the ones we didn't want to come true?

I want my spaceship, damn it. The scientists and speculators promised me there would be spaceships and mental telepathy. I want my x-ray vision and I want to teleport and I want it now, not twenty years from now when sure, I'll probably get a hologram Elvis, but I'll still have to clean my own damn kitchen.

Comments

you're an amazing writer and i just wanted to tell you that.

Well, they did the milk thing a couple of decades ago, I think. I mean, it does ultimately go bad, but it takes an awful long time and leaving it unopened in the equatorial sun won't kill it.

I'm not trying to take a dump on your childhood dreams or anything here, but I'm not sure flying cars should be our top priority in a post 9/11 world.

Michele,

Your piece stirred up a few fond childhood memories, and a few more current ones.

I pay $1.50 for a loaf of a particular kind of bread, because it seems to stay fresh until I eat all of it, though it's not advertised that way. The $1.15 loaf goes stale when it's half finished, so I actually end up saving money.

Milk that stays fresh on the shelf for up to a year was introduced at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. It never really caught on, but there's a brand called "Parmalat" available at www.netgrocer.com.

More than 20 years later, it still costs $10,000 a pound to put something into orbit on the Space Shuttle. Unless there's a quantum leap in propulsion technology, and/or private industry replaces NASA's stranglehold on leaving the atmosphere, I don't expect this to change much.

For similar reasons, we never got our flying cars (I wanted a rocket belt.)

Teleportation gained fame, literally, as a plot device for the original Star Trek series. Shuttlecraft shots looked really cheesy, and making them more believable would have busted the production budget. "Beaming" on the other hand, was a simple optical effect done routinely years before on Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannine, just with more sparkles.

But some things came true. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon when I was 10. And the "answer machine" I made out of a cardboard box and grocery store register tape at age 6 is now called an Internet-connected computer.

All that "futuristic" tech may be awesome, but did you ever think that you are speaking daily to "millions" via a glorified toaster you call a computer. I think the humanity that we "bloggers" / blog readers are exposed to every day is far more important, I know myself. And I am much more open to life and lifestyle and humane tolerance (which is very impotant) than I would ever have been with a selfish flying car. The power of the universal net world blows my mind. And I am thankful. Because I was a huge bigot 5 years ago. And that was inate. And I didn't realize it.

I'm sorry, I'm drunk and feeling a little preachy. Don't mind me.

Everyone reading this would hate a world with "flying cars". You all have a pretty good idea of the accident rate on our roads as it stands, now just imagine if the FAA granted learners' permits to 15 1/2 year old kids, or renewed the licenses of 90 year olds.

Maybe 1/10th of the people who currently hold drivers' licenses have the physical fitness, and can learn all of the skills and knowledge required, to be aviators. The crappy truth is, most of us are not good enough, or smart enough.

Software crashes, and shit happens to motherboards, and what is needed then is an honest-to-god pilot. Not a Star Wars fan. Most of you are Star Wars fans.

Flying Cars will happen, but as a subset of the general aviation community, and definitely not for most of you.

Have a nice day.

Charles......where the hell do you get bread for $1.50? I'm paying at least $2 every time I go to the store unless I go to Price Club or the Wonderbread Outlet store. I have to freeze the extra loaf I get at Price Club. The bread from the Outlet place is pretty iffy. You never know if it'll last a day or two weeks.

Excellent writing, Michele!

As slightly referenced above, the internet/web is even better than flying cars and robots! We are living the future - now!

You mean bread used to be cheaper?
:(

Heck, I buy 99-cent bread at the store a couple blocks away -- and I live in New York City. We call it "the Russian Bread". It has these ingredients: pumpernickel, white flour, water, salt, yeast. It's pretty good, and lasts a couple weeks in the fridge.

What is this $2 bread of which y'all speak?

we did get our mtv.

and clear pepsi.

and viagra.

and breasts that never sag.

so maybe the future aint that bad.

http://www.moller.com/ --Michelle, this could be your flying car by as soon as 2005.

I don't want any of those things. I just want to know if there's a Doggy Heaven.

Sure, I remember the flying cars, and the mid-engined Corvette ("Watch for it in 1980!", screamed a magazine headline in the 70s), and electricity "too cheap to meter," and houses with their own power generating plants tucked away in the basement, and taking a weekend trip to the moon as easily as jetting off to Vegas.

So, let's see, where are we? Oh, yeah. 200 channels, still nothing to watch, an internet-capable toilet, and the ability to deliver spam to millions in a second.

I'm gonna go out for a loaf of $2 bread.

Here you go
http://www.moller.com/

There are no Flying Cars or Teleportaion because the future seems to be in the hands of politicians and they aparently didn't read the same book. Please note I am not pointing to any specifc politico but mostly in general. There appears to be a desire to maintain the status quo. Maintaining the status quo leads to lack of advancement for the human race. But one voice such as Michelle could start the revolution.

X-Ray vision sounds like a good thing until some youngster saw me and my wife walking down the sidewalk...we're old. There's a lot more folks out here that you don't want to see through their clothes than those you do.
Flying cars was done years ago, the wings and rear fuselage were rigged as a trailer. For that matter, I remember the Amphicar,

We do have nifty star-trek style communicators, instant access to pretty much all human knowledge though neat little computer screens (some of which we can use outside while drinking beer), we've got cloned farm animals, tomatos with fish genes in them, nuclear powered aircraft carriers, and robots that are getting better at mixing martinis every day.

But no, no flying cars. dammit, I want one.

Bah. BAH! We already have a lot of science fiction available at our fingertips...it's just that we take it for granted and don't stop to think about the technological advances that we have made.

Robots that do your washing? We've got that. Go down to your local fuel depot andthere will be a small building that houses this wonderous machine. You stick in some currency in this slot, or even better, a plastic wedge that keeps track of your theoretical currency (some of those even automatically borrow money from major financial institutions if you don't have the money already! Fantastic!) and you drive your car inside. Then, the robot goes to work, and some of the more advanced models use LASERS and other mysterious beams so that the robot won't smash into your car...and it quickly does everything to wash your car, even waxes and dries it for you. Sure, it doesn't look like a person, but who really needs that?

THAT'S science ficiton at work.

I'm still furious at POPULAR MECHANICS. Where is
my solar-powered houseboat with the 3D television?