Science fiction has never really been of interest to me. Be it Star Trek or Star Wars, it simply failed to grab my attention. I find that to be the case with many women my age, or of any age for that matter. When boys come in to my computer lab at school, they frequently seem to be fascinated by the websites that offer glimpses into all the newest innovations in gadgets and gimmickry. The girls' interests vary widely, from fashion to music to sports to love. I'll just bet that when that "love thing" kicks in sometime in their future, they'll be wishing for some Sci-Fi advances similar to those I wish for today.
Yep, when the love starts to fade away into the hectic, yet mundane routine of laundry, shopping, cooking and cleaning, today's woman continues to pine away for some really useful scientific advances. I'm still waiting for the stuff I saw in The Jetsons back in the ‘60's to come to fruition. Now that was some Sci-Fi to die for! Where's my Rosie the Robot? She kept their air-borne apartment spic-and-span, with wife Jane never having to muss her space age dress. Of course, there didn't seem to be much laundry because, to the best of my recollection, the main characters wore the same clothes every day. Not too many dishes either, as they just punched it all up on this cool little wall machine and the meals came out ready to eat. No pots, pans, ovens, to scour, scrape, or sweat over. And what kind of hair product did teenager Judy use to keep that little ponytail aloft over her head? My hair spray only manages to hold my hair in place until I walk out the door into the humidity of the Deep South. It's all over but the crying then.
Recently, my household has been watching episodes of ABC's Extreme Home Makeover; believe it or not, this show sometimes moves us nearly to tears as the families they choose to help are so worthy of being helped. Now, I would feel slightly guilty at accepting assistance from this show, as we aren't really in the same category as the single mom in Alaska who was home-schooling something like a dozen or more adopted kids in a cracker-box sized house. However, should they somehow miraculously show up in Fairhope looking for a project to make a Home of the Future, I will gladly offer my home – if they'll make a few of my ideas come to pass.
When I bring home groceries, I think a conveyer belt attached directly to the vehicle would be nice. There would be tongs that would lift up each of the 14,000 plastic bags Wal-Mart provides to put my fifteen items in; the bags would then be lifted by the tongs, placed on the belt for delivery into the pantry or refrigerator, sorted properly, and put away by tongs on the other end. Sensors would determine if the item needed dry or cold storage. The sensors would test the temperature of the cold stuff to see if it needed to be put in the fridge or freezer. The whole contraption, which of course sounds quite unwieldy, would retract neatly into the side of the garage wall when not in use and would sing little tunes while it worked. Something along the lines of Disney's "Whistle While You Work" would be appropriate and would put me in the proper mood for going in to face the inevitable "What's for dinner?" question.
Hey, wait a minute! That gives me a whole other idea. Thinking of Snow White's dwarfs made me realize that I pay so much for groceries these days – mostly due to enhanced packaging, I believe, and the cost of fuel – that the little suckers oughta just march right into the house on their own little feet. Think Fantasia, again from Disney (boy, that guy was a genius, eh?) - the little dancing brooms always tickled my fancy. Why not watch my groceries march into the house of their own accord? The fruit could sing "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" as the cereal boxes climb to the top of the pantry shelves. This scientific innovation cannot be too far off in the future: witness the commercial featuring the real (rather than animated like the brooms) scissors dancing in the streets, just chomping at the bits to cut up your credit cards. Yeah, I know it's digital wizardry, but if they can think it, I can dream it! And, by the way, I could use those little scissors on my lawn right now; what a uniform cut I would have!
So, now that I've saved the Makeover team all that money on the no-longer-necessary and ugly conveyer belt, let's see what we can come up with for some serious improvements in the laundry area – at my house, always a small mountain no matter how often it's done. I want to permanently close the door into this awkward, L-shaped albatross and put a little slot in it, sort of like a mail slot only a little bigger. Everyone is trained to toss the laundry through that hole. Then, through some miracle concocted by tomorrow's Whirlpool engineers but available to my Home Improvement Gurus today, the clothes are cleaned, just as if they had been sent off to that mysterious place known as THE Cleaners. A series of lifts and pulleys has all the clothes traveling through the (now sanitized) attic and dropped into the proper closets pressed, hung, and ready to be messed up again. We never see any of it: not the iron which I have to plug and unplug three times just to get it going, nor the great vats of laundry detergent we consume yearly, nor the that huge blanket of fuzz that's always found in my lint trap. You'd think we had daily raids on all the belly buttons in the neighborhood if you saw how much lint we produce – it's a real shame there's no market for it. Best of all, attempting to match friend-less socks will be a thing of the past!
I suppose if I were absolutely completely lazy, we could again turn to Disney for inspiration. Remember the scene in Cinderella where the little field mice build a spectacular gown right on the princess-to-be while she doesn't move a muscle? A Sci-Fi genius could figure out how to do that in reverse to get my kids out of that favorite shirt they've worn for three days. Perhaps descending from their ceiling like an eagle's talons, the offending clothes could be swiped right off their backs and transported along the same system of transport that was put in place to deliver the clean wardrobes back home. Hey! Another great savings!! I'll bet that Home Makeover Team is really beginning to like me and my frugal concepts.
It goes without saying that there will no longer have to be a mess in the kitchen. I probably wouldn't want to give up real cooking, and would be more inclined to do so if I didn't make such a big mess. This one isn't entirely my idea, as my kitchen table already has part of this feature installed. When you pull it apart to insert an extra leaf for company, that leaf is actually stored on a shelf below. Why not just have the table auto-magically open up for the dishes to descend into the storage area? Of course, it's now more than just a place to stash the excess leaf: it's now been converted to a cleaning machine/dish cabinet. When it's time to eat again, the dishes reappear on cue with the simple touch of a button, already set in the proper places and with little napkins folded beside each one like origami. Oooh, I like that touch!
Who am I kidding? If given the opportunity, I'd never cook another morsel. Let's just let the team install a touch-pad like McDonald's, except mine say things like steak and lobster and fresh fruit and salad. And where does the lobster come from? Well, true Sci-Fians would say it is teleported from Maine , still wet and squirming. Again, though, like the laundry, I don't have to see it before I enjoy the tasty crustacean.
Speaking of teleporting… if it's good enough for the lobster, it's good enough for me. I don't have to drive to work any longer; I just blink my eyes and I'm there like Jeannie and Samantha (and if you don't know who these TV icons are, then you probably aren't old enough to be completely sick of housework anyway). What would this capability do to so many of our existing industries? No need to stay in a hotel; snap your fingers and you're in your own comfy bed. Cars, trucks, SUV's and other expensive gas guzzlers go by the wayside for personal transportation. Airplanes aren't necessary, which means you don't have to go to the airport three hours early for a one hour flight (see Leaving the Sky to the Birds for more on my take about this sad state of affairs). You could visit countries you were always afraid to go near because you have the capability of escaping from danger at a moment's notice.
I have a whole team of friends – well into their 50's and 60's and seemingly as educated as they would ever want to be – who would sign on for science classes today if they thought they could make some of these ideas come to fruition. A little bit of study now would save our daughters a whole heap of work and frustration later. I'll just bet that our girls see some of these ideas in place. After all, I saw the birth of the microwave oven; my mother saw the dawn of the dishwasher; her mother was thrilled to witness refrigerators replace iceboxes, and her mother was happy when she got her first electric washing machine. I actually remember seeing an old hand-crank washing machine during a visit to my great-grandmother's farm; what a huge chore that must have been!
There is one more thing I'd like. I want an automatic bed maker-upper. My family adheres to the philosophy that making it is a waste of time, as you're going to just mess it up again very soon anyway. For me, though, I love the feeling of getting into bed when it's clean sheets night; maybe it's psychological, but I'm quite sure I sleep better.
Women know how important a bedspread is to the "look" of the whole bedroom, so I would like a very discreet panel tucked away in the top drawer of the nightstand. Each morning, when I wake up and crawl out of bed, I'll be able to select my choice of colors and patterns from the panel, a virtual interior designer's catalog of finery. By the time I've returned from brushing my teeth and wiping the crusty stuff from my eyes, my bed will be transformed into a heavenly vision – one I can think about all day while I'm at work.
Whoa! I've indeed let myself get carried away. Hey, Home Makeover Folks? For now, I'll just settle for getting my fence put back up!