"I can't believe you find this slow", was the bemused interjection of William Mariner, a time travelling medieval peasant farmer, upon witnessing the information super-highway or "internet" for the first time.
Mariner, who had for his entire life up resided in the year 1109 AD on the barren agricultural outskirts of Canterbury, England, last week found a time machine hidden under one of his, what we would consider primitive, wooden ploughs. Pushing a large red button marked "TIME TRAVEL ON/OFF", he was swept up in a bright surge of raw nuclear energy and randomly set down in the year 2003 in a Milwaukee back garden. Since arriving he is, among other things, surprised by the rage many city dwellers apparently feel when confronted with a slow internet connection.
Mariner said, "I find that to even have a means to communicate with potentially every person on the planet is extraordinary in itself. I never even communicated once with my boss and enslaver, Lord Fitzwilliam of Dukesbury. The idea I could send an "email" to him requesting less squalid living conditions for me and my family would appeal to me greatly".
He added, "Really, these "emails" of yours are a marvel. I find it hard to credit how you future people can get angry at what you call your "painfully slow dial-up connections", and the like".
Mariner also praised the internet for being "a tremendous source of knowledge - much better than the bible even".
"Once I can get used to the iron and the microwave and continue learning from the internet which is not slow by the way then I see no reason to leave".
"Did you know the earth is round? Like a wheel... kind of. I sure has fuck would have thought it was flat how the fuck do the people on the bottom not fall off? Because of gravity thats why. I read about that today, fucking incredible- you see I'm learning the swear words too.
"Let's see, what else did I learn today? Oh yeah and that my period would become known as the dark ages... heh heh, it seemed pretty bright to me - shows what I know, heh heh. I suppose with this internet around in your world, I can see why one might call my time dark heh heh".
Again showing that he has picked up some of our profane contemporary vernacular, Mariner then added, "Fuck man - seriously - some of that shit blew me away!".
Bob Willis, the man who has been kindly housing Mariner ever since he discovered him lying naked in his back lawn surrounded by a luminous ball of light said, "It sure is fascinating having your very own medival peasant farmer living in your home. Opens your eyes to how the other half lives, ya know? But I have to beg to differ with Mr. Mariner on the matter of our internet speed. It is fucking dreadful - seriously- I get a tumour just thinking about it. The sooner those AOL bastards build a good broadband infrastructure that covers the whole of Milwaukee, the better as far as I'm concerned. I suppose William is just a bit naive because he comes from a time when even computers, let alone the internet, were unheard of".
Willis added, "He's a great guy otherwise - full of wacky medieval stories - always up for a beer or two after I come home after work. Like the other day in McGintys he had me and the guys in stitches with his story of how he had to amputate his mother's arm with a sharp stone coz it had gone septic. The guys were rolling around the floor. We were out of it at that stage - think it was about 2 in the morning or something".
Despite his general sense of wonderment, Mariner has at times been struggling to settle in to his new and what he understadably calls "futurustic", surroundings. Certain electronic amenities of convenience scattered about the Willis household are causing particular strife.
"Mariner also praised the internet for being "a tremendous source of knowledge - much better than the bible even".
"And what of these "toasters" of yours? I'll be honest, they make kinda afear - or is it afraid? Shit man, I am used to cooking bread over an open fire. The fact you can adjust the heat settings on these toasters fucking scares the shit out of me. Many times I have found myself shaking my head in discredit murmuring that this is the work of Satan".
The microwave and toasted sandwich maker inspire similar feelings of dread within Mariner. And he has already scalded himself 4 times with the iron failing to appreciate how a small metalic object with a cable leading to some crevices in the wall can generate such phenomenol levels of heat let alone eliminate folds in fabric.
The Willis kid Jeff, a pesky disaffected 9 year old is growing tired of, what he calls, the medieval farmer's "stupid idiot behaviour".
In his shrill pre-pubescent American accent, he fumed, "That stupid idiot. I can't believe I have to share a bunk with him. He has a weird smell too... kinda like Grandma... only worse. And the other day I saw him say exorcistic prayers over one of my video games. He saw a dragon or something on the box and started screaming "Satan, Satan spare me your wrath". Then later he caught me playing Need For Speed 2 on the Playstation and he had a goddamn epileptic fit or something. Like how could he not call that a cool game. I guess he's insane or something. I wish he'd just get out of our house and our lives. Dad never spends any time with me anymore and Mom is really pissed. Yesterday I saw my Dad play catch with that stupid idiot medival guy in the back garden. He never played catch with me."
One might speculate that, for Bob - a father with an, at best, distant relationship with his young son, Mariner may well represent the "son he never had". This is despite the fact Mariner is aged 33, but looks more like 66 due to the poor medical facities of his home epoch and therefore wouldn't generally be mistaken for someone's son.
Mariner has no plans to travel back in time. "No way. Besides I like it here. Once I can get used to the iron and the microwave and continue learning wonderful new facts from the internet - which is not slow by the way - then I see no reason to leave".
Familial duty does not call either as Mariner figures his "family have been dead for several years".