Since the Great Freeze of 1989, early May in Central Florida isn’t what it used to be, with hundreds of square miles of orange blossoms pumping out a perfume to make jasmine weep in envy. But there are still enough groves to catch your olfactory attention. George and I were sitting in his 12 foot aluminum fishing boat one fine Sunday, breathing it in and waiting for the speckled perch to make a judgement error, when he broke the silence unexpectedly:
“Ever wonder if evolution is still going on?”
“Evolution never stops,” I said. “It can’t.”
“Yeah,” says George, “but I mean, like, human evolution.”
“Well, we’re doing everything we can to subvert it, so it sure seems stalled — until we start fiddling with our own genome intentionally, I suppose.” George was no dummy, so I assumed he was leading up to something interesting. I waited to see what.
He was slow to answer. This piqued my interest.
“What I mean is, we got this far by basically trying everything and discarding most of the duds, right?” I nodded. “But Homo sapiens has been around for a good while now, and so far we seem to be just squatting on our laurels, as it were.” I smiled at the reference to my Class Poem. “What if there were a new species already, but it’s hiding from us?”
Now it was my turn to take a while to answer. “You got something in mind?”
“Sure,” he jumped right in, “the obvious shortcoming of H. sap. is stupidity, right? What if there were already a bunch of super-smart humans hiding in plain sight?”
I was actually shocked. This wasn’t George’s average wild idea. “You seem to have given this some thought.”
“Yes! Now, suppose you were one of them. With an IQ of 300, let’s say. What would you do?”
“Make a fortune on the stock market?”
“Get serious. How would you prevent the H. sap. hordes from coming for you with pitchforks?”
“Why would they do that?”
“Come on, where have you been for the last few thousand years? What does H. sap. do to anyone they perceive as even slightly different?”
“You got a point there. Okay, what would you do?”
“I’d pretend to be stupid. Not just below average, but too stupid to be worth picking on.”
“Okay, I’ll bite. There sure are a lot of those Homo superior faux-idiots around.”
“Don’t laugh. Think about it. They have to hide from H. sap., but they need to work together to prepare the world for their eventual takeover. They need politics.”
“Wait a minute, ‘eventual takeover‘? Why do they need to take over?”
George looked at me with a frightening skepticism, as if he had mistaken a coral snake for a scarlet kingsnake. “Seriously? Are you comfortable with the world H. sap. is leaving for your grandchildren?”
“Another good point,” I admitted. “So you tell me, how do these smart guys pretend to be stupid, hide in plain sight, and simultaneously form a political…”
The other shoe dropped.
“Holy shit! That’s the first rational and hopeful explanation I’ve ever heard for the Trump movement!”
George smiled. I didn’t ask him how he’d voted.