Me and the Ben

posted 22 Mar 2006, 3PM | 7 Comments

So, for about five years I've been having this recurring daydream fantasy. Ben Franklin suddenly appears in my house, having just instantaneously travelled forward in time from the 18th century. He has no idea what happened, but being Old Ben he's quite curious about the world.

So naturally I must show him all the electrical appliances in my house (thanks for that, buddy!), describe the current political state of the world, summarize 250 years of history and satisfy his curiosity by explaining about space exploration, digital media, fashion, the internal combustion engine, mini-malls and wireless communication. I get him comfortable with fast motion, and we drive to Boston.

I daydream about all that, then take pride in having (what I believe to be) a balanced head of knowledge coupled with an ability to explain things well. Basically, I'm just full of myself. Does anybody else have these kind of self-serving daydreams? Are founding fathers involved?

There are 7 Comments


23 Mar 06 at 10:47AM J. Dunn said:

Eerie. Not only the same type(I show past person the wonders of Teh Future!), but the same person, even! I guess Ben Franklin is an easy mark for this sort of thing, being an inventor and gadabout and all. You'd think he would be very interested and curious and not quite as utterly overwhelmed and disgusted as most other people from that time would be. Or at least I do.


23 Mar 06 at 11:34AM Martha said:

Creepy people staring at me on the T are not, in fact, creepy people staring at me, but time travelling historians from the future, come back to observe me in the much-studied years before I do something SO AMAZING that I am remembered in their centuries-distant future.

So what do you tell Ben Franklin about fashion?


24 Mar 06 at 12:17PM ari said:

In mine, I am usually explaining things to "Pa" from Little House on the Prairie (Michael Landon's character). Mine's a little different though--I use it as a litmus test. If I can't explain to Pa why some new invention/process/way of thinking is a benefit to individuals or society as a whole, it is deemed pointless and/or wasteful.

Plus I like to think about how nervous he'd be riding around in my car. With a female driver. Who is wearing pants instead of a calico frock and bonnet.


24 Mar 06 at 04:32PM sixfoot6 Author Profile Page said:

Wow, I'm both suprised and delighted. I wonder if normal civilians have these kind of daydreams, too... or if it's just me and my geek friends.

In the post above I said 5 years, but I may well have been doing this for 3 or 10 years, or since early high school. I actually don't remember, and since I've never mentioned it to anyone and my recurring daydreams all seem to overlay into their own timeless daydream categorical reality field, there's really no way to tell.

Jared, that is a bit eerie. But I suppose I always went with Ben for the same reason that you did: my impression of him (based on our cultural memory / retelling, I guess) is that as an idea man he'd be more interested in the how and the why of things than in casting judgement. I guess implicit in that statement (and in what you said) is that I'm somehow ashamed of the modern world and don't want to have to defend it.

Martha, I used to have more of that kind of thing in my Boston days, too.... especially in the wake of Truman Show and 12 Monkeys. But why are your people from teh future always creepy?

Re: Fashion - I try to quickly explain how pop culture and the, uh, corporatization of fashion and consumer culture in general causes styles to change very rapidly, and that choosing an outfit can be like choosing to identify with a click, subculture, or values from some decade. The real focus of the fashion conversation, though, is about t-shirts and shorts our in public, casual Fridays, and the gradual erosion of formality and respect from daily public life. It's good to be comfortable, etc., but maybe it's a cause / symptom of something greater.

Ari, your LHLT (Little House Litmus Test) is the best. I bet you're not alone in that. WE MUST DO RESEARCH.


24 Mar 06 at 08:58PM lobster said:

I've never had that kind of daydream before. But, on a related note, I do think you look a little like Abe Lincoln in that one Flickr photos where you have the beard and are standing in front of a train.

Incidentally, would that Martha of the comment above be the Martha of bluelikethat fame?


26 Mar 06 at 09:31PM lobster said:

Actually, Ryan, Martha: Pay no mind to my inquiry above. It was kind of silly and gauche of me to ask that.


27 Mar 06 at 12:18AM David said:

i await your projects. they sound intruiging. i know they'll be good so i'm intruiged though i have no idea what they are.
i started having the time travelers from the future observing my early years before i become famous daydream in grade school after Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and after 12 Monkeys.
i had that daydream for years and thought i'd put it behind me so thanks Martha.
my psychiatrist will be thrilled ;-D

lobster, you silly, gauche crustaeacean. pinch me.

ryan, i can't forget the live sketch, Jungle Catkins. it may be goofy but i could watch that thing over and over and laugh every time.

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