‘Cave People’ And The Dawn Of Civilization


I have been thinking about cavemen. I think about them far too much, especially when wondering how things evolved.

I think cave people, in general, get a bad rap. We tend to think of them as slow and dull-witted when, the truth is, they were constantly chasing down their food and also invented the wheel. The wheel! Can you imagine what our lives would be like without it? Have you ever walked to Orlando? It’s pretty far. And, once you got there, no trams. No baby strollers. No roller coasters. Why even go?

But I digress.

These under-appreciated cave people harnessed fire, used it to light their caves and decided to eat cooked food rather than raw. Do you know what a mental leap that was for them?

“Igor put fish on stick. Put over fire. Eating it.”

“That crazy loon gonna poison himself.”

“He call it ‘barbecue.’”

“Stop! You crackin’ me up!”

Pretty soon Igor was leader of the tribe, brandishing fire on a stick to widespread awe and wonderment. (“He calls it ‘flashlight.’” “STOP! You killin’ me!”)

Maybe one night in mid-December, Igor was the one who watched the clan run over to a tree that had been hit by lightning in an effort to get warm. Maybe he was the first one to have indoor heat which, immediately afterward, required the invention of the flue. Maybe his wife invented the bellows to keep the fire going when Igor went fishing.

“She call it ‘stove.’”

“So now she inventing words? Me hate her.”

Pretty soon Mr. & Mrs. Igor had heat, a stove and a pantry. One day, Little Igorette fished a piece of dry tinder from the fire and started drawing on the walls, recording daddy’s hunts. (“The kid calls it ‘charcoal.’”) Other cave children tried it, but their parents preferred their cave walls clean and washed the artwork off, demolishing most of early recorded history. Only the Igor family museum survived, all because the parents thought it was “cute.”

Now I take this a step further, comparing the Igors to today’s “doomsday preppers.” Both live in caves, stockpile food and worry about venting smoke. Today’s preppers are getting ready for manmade disasters — terrorist attacks, dirty bombs, nuclear radiation and World War III. Natural phenomenon such as hurricanes and tornadoes are child’s play, although preppers are always on the lookout for electromagnetic disturbances, solar flares or a series of earthquakes.

For the Igors, however, every day was doomsday. A saber-toothed tiger strolls into the cave and it’s over. The pantry catches on fire in the middle of the night? Ditto. Even a jealous neighbor with a club could spell doomsday for them.

But one thing remains the same — people spending weeks and months in a cave with nothing but their family for entertainment are bound to doodle. So someday, thousands of years from now, people will still be viewing the progress of humanity on cave walls.

Unless, of course, some idiot cleaned up.