Was IT as good for you as IT will be for me?

I write this column in the past. Well, it’s my present, but thanks to the magic of print media (the magic of television’s bastard stepbrother), it’s your past. As you read this column, history has already been made. The Age of Aquarius has dawned.

I’m talking about “IT.” You know, IT. IT is big. Bigger than him (Rudy Giuliani). Bigger than her (Betty T). Bigger than U2. If you don’t know what IT is, oh man, you’re a cultural dinosaur. You’re like Rip van Winkle minus the Taliban hairdo. You’re a tortoise in a race versus a hare with good timing. The world is quickly passing you by. On its own personal hovercraft.

No, really. A personal hovercraft. That’s what IT is.

IT was invented by Dean Kamen, the man who brought you the stair-climbing wheelchair and the thing in Dick Cheney’s heart that keeps him from slumping over in his Grape Nuts. Last year, Kamen received a patent for something called a “personal mobility device,” and that’s what everyone seems to think IT is. Most reports indicate that this means “motorized scooter,” but I’m holding out for “hovercraft” or perhaps “anti-gravity rocketpack.” Whatever IT is, IT has been a more closely guarded secret than grade inflation at Yale.

That changes on Monday morning, when Kamen unveils his breakthrough invention on “Good Morning America.” That’s right: “Good Morning America.” The choice of venue for his announcement was deliberate. Only a chump would reveal this thing at a prime time press conference. But Kamen is a visionary. It was clear to him that Diane Sawyer should introduce him and IT right after Charlie Gibson shares with us the secret of Noah Wylie’s Christmas cookies.

Maybe IT will change everything. Maybe Dec. 3, 2001 will turn out to be a momentous day in history. Poor George Harrison. He just missed IT.

Will IT be a disappointment? Possibly. It would be hard to live up to the hype. Bob Metcalfe, the founder of 3Com, saw the invention and claims IT might be “more important than the Internet.”

Well, unless it is possible to download pornography off IT, I doubt the validity of this statement.

One need only look back to New Coke, Iridium satellite phones and Xtreme professional football for Next Big Things that simply weren’t.

Nonetheless, IT must be pretty damn impressive. When Steve Jobs saw IT, he threw millions of dollars at Kamen. When Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos saw IT, he fell out of his chair. Kamen called the stair-climbing wheelchair “Fred,” and he refers to IT as “Ginger.” Well, we all know that Ginger was a lot hotter than Fred.

If IT really is as revolutionary as it’s said to be, I will be much relieved because so far, the 21st century has not been nearly as futuristic as it was supposed to be. Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen head must be spinning in its container because no one drives flying cars or takes the monorail to work. My wristwatch isn’t powered by Our Friend the Atom. Police officers don’t use laser guns. The moon colony doesn’t even exist, let alone have a decent golf course.

Perhaps IT merely represents the first wave of the future. Perhaps, if people see how great IT is, they’ll be more receptive to other changes. An end to racism and the oppression of women. The eradication of disease and hunger throughout the world. The cancellation of “Touched By an Angel.” The advent of a utopian society, made possible by the little scooter that could.

And to think that we’ve wasted all our time trying to fix the world’s problems via peace treaties, telethons and smart bombing. All we needed was IT.

Of course, all of this is mere speculation. The announcement on “Good Morning America” is still over 12 hours away for me. It’s probably already old news for you, however. You know more about IT than I do. If IT has changed the world, congratulations. You live in fortunate times, and I look forward to joining you.

On the other hand, if IT is no big deal, please disregard this column and go back to eating your sloppy soy sandwich.



JP Nogues is a senior in Davenport College. His columns regularly appear on alternate Thursdays.

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