I was at coffee shop communion with a couple of Nebraska wise men.
After we had outlined, opined and refined solutions for the deficit, global warming, the ethanol fizzle and the movement to hold the next winter Olympics in Ogallala, we became introspective.
"If it had been up to you, Jay, where would the world be today?"
"Well," he said, "If I'd been there at the beginning we'd never have discovered electricity, alimony or the four-door sedan."
Jay is a horseman.
His interest, expertise and education has made him the man to turn to regarding the health, breeding and training of the magnificent equine. He never would have taken the time to worry about hydraulic dams, transformers, alternating current or sonograms. But he would have allowed civilization to harness the horse as a beast of burden. He would have been quite influential until they invented the steam engine.
"What about you, Bob?" I asked.
"I farm, and I'm a pretty good welder," he said.
A good start, I thought.
For his skills, he would have needed fire, metallurgy and the art of complaining. But by his own admission, he probably would not have thought of the Museum of Fine Art, creating the corn maze or Carhenge.
Yet, he would have discovered things such as grain - enough for his family and his neighbors; fire: to keep his cave warm and a live version of a round-the-campfire right-wing talk show.
When my turn came, I realized if the world had been populated with people who had my natural limitations, we never would have put a man on the moon, discovered the ballpoint pen or eaten Italian food. We'd have no wheel, no fluorescent lighting or cell phones.
We'd never have discovered Greenland or Antarctica, Cream of Wheat, margarine or deficit spending.
I'd like to think I might have thought up palpating cows. I've always had a curiosity about how the body works. I remember the first time I ran my arm up the back of a cow and discovered a whole new world!
I guess I could have invented veterinary medicine, although I might have been sidetracked by my insistence on curing critters with chants, cures and cowboy poetry!
So, in the end we concluded that we were glad that Thomas Edison, Bill Goodyear, Snoop Dog, John Browning and Raquel Welch came along or the world today would be a less civilized place.
I mean, can you imagine living without porch lights, split rim tires, droopy pants, the 30.30 or grape juice?