This morning I decided I really must invent something.
I was knocking around a stone with a stick outside the cave, as one will, you know, to pass the time, when I decided this. And I made the mistake of telling my woman, Uga, of the decision.
“That’s wonderful, Ug,” she said, looking up from the fire where she was roasting a mastodon haunch. “Why don’t you invent the microwave oven? I’m sick and tired of cooking on dried mammoth dung.”
“There’s nothing wrong with dried mammoth dung,” I told her. “It gives the meat a wonderful smoky flavour.”
“It stinks,” she said. “You come over here downwind and smell it.”
“I did invent perfume for you last time, didn’t I?” I grumbled. “So why are you complaining?”
“You know I’m allergic to crushed toadstools,” she riposted. (See there? I just invented a new word – riposted! In half a million years, do you think they’ll be using it still? You bet they will! And, hey, ther I go inventing rhymes as well! What the hell! Hell? You mean I just invented religion as well? Damn, I mean seriously...just damn.)
But to get back to Uga. There’s really no pleasing her, or any other woman for that matter. “Couldn’t you at least have invented rose perfume or something?”
“Rose?” I shrieked. “You mean those awful-looking pink flowers with all the thorns? Do you think I want my hands scratched to pieces?”
“Well, then,” she snorted, “why don’t you invent the microwave, or at least a gas cooker?”
“In order to do that I’d have to invent electricity, wouldn’t I?” I replied logically. “Or I’d have to invent natural gas drilling rigs, and pipelines and distribution systems, not to mention revenue-sharing arrangements and probably a mercenary army to take care of the security. Do you really think it’s worth the hassle?”
With a loud sniff, she turned away, muttering something about my being good only for big talk. Big talk? That gave me an idea. Maybe if I took a while to think of something called a loudspeaker...that would be Big Talk all right. But that would need me to invent electricity first, wouldn’t it? You see the problem? All this thinking made me want to go invent Headache Pills. At least those would be of use when I tried to get Uga interested at night and she said she had a headache.
Anyway, I kept knocking around the stone with a stick, thinking of what I should invent, something requiring not too much effort. Just then Boog turned up.
“Hi, Ug,” he said, looking insufferably smug. “Guess what I just invented!”
“What?” I asked, none too impressed with his manner. “As though I give a damn.”
“Damn?” he asked suspiciously. “What does that mean?”
“Nothing,” I said hastily, deciding that I must find a meaning for the word, pronto. “It’s just a word I invented. What were you saying?”
“Yes, well,” and the smug look came back on his face. “You’re looking at a celebrity, dawg!”
“What’s a celebrity?”
“It means I’m famous for being famous,” he said. “Now I only have to invent the reality show!”
“What’s a reality show?”
“Well, that’s going to have to wait until I invent Television,” he said, scratching his head. “And I think I should invent the Publicity Agent while I’m about it. To make sure I stay famous, you know.” His voice grew dreamy. “Imagine television companies, selling millions of shares on something I’ll invent called the Stock Market. Imagine all that.”
I snorted. “It’s never going to catch on,” I said. “In a hundred thousand years, do you think anyone will ever bother with that rubbish?”
“We’ll see,” he said ominously. “I’ll think about inventing a Time Machine so I can prove I’m right. Now, what are you doing? Knocking around stones with sticks like a kid, are you?”
“Not a bit of it,” I said. “I’m, I’m inventing a sport. You know, sport?”
“No. Another one of your stupid ideas? Like what Uga was telling me about the other evening, when...”
“When...? Go on.”
“Never you mind. What about this sport thing you’re talking about?”
“Well,” I said, knocking the stone about, “I was watching two herds of buffalo butting each other the other day, and there was a coconut rolling around, and I thought, suppose we butted each other around like that, only we’d be fighting over the coconut instead. The herd, I mean, team, which won would get to keep the coconut.”
“But there are coconuts right there on the trees,” he said. “Why go to all the trouble to fight for them?”
“You’ll never understand professional sport,” I said disgustedly. “I’ll call it ‘American football’.”
“Why football?” he asked, stupidly. “And what’s American?”
“Never mind about the American for now,” I said. “Why not football? You have one reason why it shouldn’t be called football?”
“From what you tell me, your...sportsters? No, that’s a clumsy word. Players? Yeah, players is much better. Well, your players will hardly touch the ball with their feet, will they? So why football?”
“Because I say so,” I said. “In a hundred thousand years,” I continued, letting my imagination free rein, “you’ll find something I’ll call a gridiron, and, um, leagues of teams with fancy names like the Galloping Ground Sloths or Trampling Tyrannosaurs, and something called the Super Bowl, and wardrobe malfunctions, I’ll bet.”
“What on earth are you talking about? Have you flipped your lid completely?”
“You just wait and see,” I said, “and you’ll find that everything I say will come to pass.” I hit the stone a mighty whack with the stick, and it sailed away and dropped into a rat hole in the ground. “Hole in one!” I shouted.
“What?” Boog asked. “Why did you shout hole in one?”
“It’s...uh...OK, so I invented a new sport,” I said, getting excited. “I think I’ll call it golf. We’ll all take sticks and hit stones into rat holes. And the one who’s best at it gets to be called Tiger Woods.”
“Why Tiger Woods?”
“Because the winner will be a tiger with the ladies, of course,” I informed him with contempt. “And it’s all because of the wood...”
“Look,” Boog interrupted. “Your cave is on fire.”
I turned. Thick mammoth-dung smoke was gushing out of the entrance. Uga rushed out, screeching. “Ug! Do something!”
“Wait,” I said, and sat down thinking.
“What are you doing?” Uga asked. The fire had frizzled her hair into curls, and it really looked quite fetching, so I thought for a moment of inventing the beauty parlour, but sternly turned myself to the task at hand.
“Hush,” I told her. “I’m thinking of how to invent the telephone.”
“Why the telephone? The cave is on fire!”
“So I can call the fire brigade, of course,” I snapped. “I do wish you wouldn’t screech like that.”
“You idiot, the fire brigade hasn’t been invented yet!”
“H’m,” I said, “you’ve got a point there.” Nobody can say I can’t be gracious when I have to be.
Boog had vanished. Suddenly he reappeared, carrying a hollowed-out tree trunk full of water, and threw it into the cave. The fire sputtered and went out. Boog sauntered over, looking mightily pleased with himself.
“You’d better invent news media,” he told me, “so you can tell everyone how I put the fire out.”
“My hero,” Uga sighed, and melted into his arms. I thought of inventing the romantic movie but realised that I hadn’t invented the film camera yet.
“Hey, look,” I said lamely. “That’s my woman.”
“No longer,” Uga said. “I’m his woman now. Isn’t that right, Boog?”
“Damned right, babe. You put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ug.”
“But divorce hasn’t been invented!” I wailed.
“So invent it,” Uga said. “And don’t forget alimony while you’re about it.”
“Alimony?” I asked stupidly. “What’s that?”
Uga laughed, walking away arm-in-arm with Boog. “The screwing you get,” she said over her shoulder, “for the screwing you got.”
I think it’s time I hired someone to take care of the problem for me.
I mean, I could club Boog myself, of course, but I don’t want someone suddenly inventing the Death Penalty, do I? No. So, I’ll hire a pro for the job.
I think I’ll call him a...um...I’ve got it! Contract killer.
Your applications should reach me by this time tomorrow.
I’ll pay well, just as soon as I get down to inventing money.
I’m on it now.