My lovely and adored wife, Iris, would have been a survivor in prehistoric times. What our neanderthal ancestors needed to evade the sabre tooth tiger and the massive mastodon she has in spades.
Unfortunately, the threats that her highly-tuned senses could conquer are no longer with us. Her uncanny sense of smell is ever-alert for fire, gas, dead animals or rotting food. This leads to searches for flames that cannot be found, gas that is leaking from nowhere and deceased rodents that seem to have walked out of our garage.
What tastes fine, perhaps delicious, to me, she knows is, in truth, poisonous. What I would eat with gusto, she snatches off my plate because she has tasted it and finds it stale or sour or rancid, not fit for dogs. The week-old pot roast that I like to nibble on suddenly disappears.
Hearing, though, is where her super auditory nerves would warn her of a lion's roar in another part of the forest. In a crowded restaurant so noisy that we have to lean in to communicate, Iris will shush me if I comment about people seated on the other side of midnight.
"Look," I say, "we can hardly hear each other. How can they possibly overhear?"
"They not only can, they are pointing at us," Iris counters.
This I cannot refute because I am facing the wall. But I know it's not true or they are pointing at us for some other reason -- possibly the spaghetti sauce on my face.
I know that in 10,000 B.C. I would have been a goner. I would have gobbled poisonous leaves; I would have made light of the mammoth's heavy step as just a meaningless jungle sound; I would have ignored a maggot in the cooked hindquarters of a coyote.
No Fred Flintstone, I. I would have not survived to become a cartoon. But in this world I have made it to 87 doing things my way, and I just wish that the pot roast would hang around 'till I've had my fill.