The Sarcastic Caveman

by Adam Acidophilus

A group of cavemen and cavewomen were sitting around their fire one night when one of their number made an astonishing suggestion.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “You know the way we have go out hunting every day? With our bows and arrows? And hunt and track and slay wild beasts?”

“Yes?” said the others — wondering where this was leading.

“Well,” he continued, “you know how we usually don’t catch anything and come home empty handed? And you know that, if we are lucky, we have to drag the dead beast all the way back?”

“Yes?”

“Well, I think I might have come up with a solution. Why don’t we simply catch a few younger beasts, you know, small ones, keep them captive, nearer the caves, and then slay them a little bit later — once they’ve grown up?”

The cave people nodded their approval; it was a very good idea.

“Oh yes,” said a sarcastic caveman. “I’m sure they’d be happy to just wait outside the cave until we want to kill them one day. Brilliant!”

“Well hang on,” said a second caveman. “That’s wouldn’t be so difficult … You know those rocks? Like the ones we made the monument of unknown religious significance out of? We could get a load of those and build a sort of continuous boundary, about as high as a man, all the way around this valley, and keep the animals inside it. Then they wouldn’t run away.”

The cave people mused upon this extraordinary concept.

“You’re a genius!” said the sarcastic caveman. “So you’re going to put all these rocks on top of each other — to form a boundary of some considerable length. Go hunting, without actually killing your beasts, bring them home and presumably feed them for months — or years in some cases? Then knock ’em on the head and eat them? I don’t think so!”

“Funny you should say that — ” said one of the cavewomen. “You know the way we go out and gather grain and vegetables every day? Well, I reckon we could just as well uproot the plants and stick them back in the ground by the river; possibly increase the density of plants, and nip over and fetch stuff as and when we needed it. It would save a lot of time.”

“Yep!” said the sarcastic caveman. “Control the locations of plants! That’s bound to work!”

“Well it does,” said the cavewoman. “That’s how we got this evening’s onions.”

By dawn the cave folk had decided upon an ambitious five-summer plan, whereby animals and plants would be raised and cultivated in the immediate area, with a programme of wall and field construction, year on year, culminating in an almost total phasing out of the hunting and gathering.

“Phasing out?” said the sarcastic caveman. “Phasing out of hunting and gathering? That’s not going to happen, is it?”

Five years later they looked down with satisfaction upon their new farm, which was lush with crops and well-stocked with cows and sheep.

“Not bad,” they remarked. “Not bad at all.”

“It’s a total mess,” said the sarcastic caveman. “You’ve ruined the view for the sake of a few saved minutes here and there — and failed to honour the noble traditions which made us what we were before you went and spoilt it all.”

“And no thanks to you,” grumbled the others. “You spent the whole five years making arrowheads which we don’t even need anymore!”

The cave people started to discuss their future plans.

“Oh you and your future plans,” said the sarcastic caveman. “You live in a cave! Get over yourselves!” And he stormed off.

“Funny he should say that,” said one of the cavemen. “I’ve been looking at the wall — as we call it — and I don’t know if we couldn’t use the same methods to build new caves … They could be whatever size we wanted, in nice regular shapes, above ground level — obviously — with flat floors and no strange twisty corners to get lost in. And we could build them somewhere nearer the farm. And they’d be warmer, closer to the river, with higher air quality. What do you say?”

They all decided that this was a very good idea as well.

“Well enjoy your stone homes,” said the sarcastic caveman, who had crept back to the fireside (for it was freezing). “And good luck with the ingenious if untried roofing techniques which you haven’t thought of yet!”

The cave folk departed to build their new homes — and never came back.

The sarcastic caveman had nothing to do with them. He lived alone, hunted small things, and tried to make his own clothes (which was hopeless). And he drew little pictures on the cave walls of people going hunting, just like they had in the old days.

The years passed and the sarcastic caveman grew bitter and cold and lonely, and terribly bored, so he went down to the farm for a look around.

And he was very surprised by what he found: an extensive network of fields and shelters, large families with happy healthy children, clay vessels, and wheeled vehicles pulled by specially trained animals.

“Well I suppose it’s all right,” he remarked, generously. “So far as it goes. I mean, it’s no substitute for the old ways. But if you don’t care about our heritage — it’s a reasonable effort … Considering.”

“Glad you could make it,” the farmers said. “We are just about to launch our new political system in which everybody’s voice is heard, expert evidence is weighed, and then rational decisions are agreed upon by the whole group.”

“Very nice,” said the sarcastic caveman. “And what’s the matter with a good old fashioned wallop? Take what you fancy and if anybody wants to chat about it — do ’em in!”

“But don’t you want to be part of a functioning society?” one of the cavewomen pleaded. “Don’t you believe in civilisation?”

“Society?” said the sarcastic caveman (not all that sarcastically). “Civilisation? You make me sick. I didn’t get where I am today listening to everybody’s voices and making rational decisions! Civilisation — as you insist on calling it — is an unworkable, soft-headed load of old boulders have you got any spare meat I can borrow please thanks — ” and he left again.

He pretended to go hunting the very next day — with his bow and his arrows. But unfortunately, he shot himself in the foot. With nobody to help him, he perished on the track, where his remains were discovered some weeks later.

“This is very unfortunate,” said the newly-elected chief farmer. “But on the plus side, civilisation can now develop without anymore prats like this getting in the way.”

Moral: Well, he was right — wasn’t he? It is unworkable and soft-headed. Don’t you people ever learn?

© Adam Acidophilus 2014