Dateland: The Elephant In The Room


Last night, I attended a lecture on how to clone a mammoth. It was given by a beautiful-but-icy lady scientist with a suspicious accent. She sounded like a James Bond villain, lushly overemphasizing her vowels with cool calculation. I was left with the distinct impression that she planned to use her mammoth cloning program as a Trojan horse designed to sneak through a far more sinister agenda.

“That scientist is up to no good!” I proclaimed to my friend, Stacy, who I had tricked into attending the lecture, telling her they would be serving ice cream.

“Anyone who promises ice cream and then doesn’t deliver is up to no good,” muttered Stacy, who hadn’t yet figured out that I was behind the ice cream ruse.

“I’ve got nothing against mammoths,” I said, “but what’s next, pterodactyls? As if I don’t already have enough problems with modern-day birds.”

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with birds, particularly pet birds. They clearly resent my freedom and joie de vivre. Each time I encounter a pet bird it aggressively bounces on its perch, telegraphing that if we weren’t separated by a cage it would be bouncing its talons into my face. I’ve tried to make peace with wild birds in my yard by feeding them regularly, but they always seem deeply displeased with whatever food I offer. There’s one bird, in particular, that hates my guts. He’s a fat blue jay that sits outside my bedroom window, staring silently at me for hours. It’s very unsettling.

The title of the mammoth lecture was misleading. I thought we were going to be instructed on how to actually clone a mammoth. This, I thought, would be the perfect rainy day activity to perform with my young nieces. The last time I was stuck inside with them we attempted to bake a princess cake. It involved following a very complicated recipe given to me by a vindictive gay man who was intent on making me lose all respect from my nieces. Well, mission accomplished, you sadistic bastard! Our completed project resembled nothing like the perfectly symmetrical and beautifully decorated rainbow confection that accompanied the recipe. Rather it looked like something a unicorn might have vomited on a street corner following a wild night on the town. Cloning seemed like a simple task by comparison.

But instead of explaining how we could clone our own mammoth, the lady scientist focused on her master plan to extract DNA from a long-dead beast found in icebergs and then do a bunch of science-y things that would result in a baby mammoth. These babies would then be raised by elephants.

“Has anyone asked elephants how they feel about this plan?” asked Stacy.

“What would you clone if you could?” I asked Stacy, pointedly ignoring her elephant comment because the answer was so obvious. Elephants would raise the mammoth babies without complaint, because they are beautiful, loving, and selfless creatures, and if you ever buy ivory I will personally come to your home and cut off half your face and see how you like it.

“I would clone a Good Humor truck,” Stacy said wistfully.

“I’d clone that sexy lady scientist” I growled suggestively, but I didn’t really mean it.

Truth be told, I’ve recently excavated a bit of my own prehistoric past. And I’m debating whether it would be wise to try to bring it back from the dead.  A fool’s errand on so many levels. But if we can rebirth an ancient beast from a scrap of bone, why can’t I resurrect a dream from the dust of my youth? Impossible? Probably. But if it works, baby mammoths for everyone!

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