Thursday, August 5, 2010

On Sloths

Very little has been written and studied on the subject of sloths. This is because among all the animal kingdom, sloths are far too boring to study with any real intensity. Scientists and biologists around the globe have tried and most have failed. Many scientists have been undone. This has led to more papers being written on the debilitating effects of studying sloths than on the actual creatures themselves. This is also why, at a sloth enclosure at the zoo, we find most children choose to stare into the sun.

Because of the dark history of sloth study, the scientific world was rocked on June 30th, 2010 when one Doctor Leon Spiegleburger released a paper entitled Sloths: What They Do All Day (And Why We Humans Have No Idea). The heart of Doctor Spiegleburger's thesis? Time travel.

If the name Leon Spiegleburger sounds familiar, it's because his 1973 paper, A New Football: Using Wombat Pelts To Revive The Dwindling Pig Population, nearly led to the extinction of both the wombat and the American sport of football. After the disastrous consequences of his work, Doctor Spiegleburger fell into well-deserved obscurity and prior to 2010 published only one more paper entitled, Can't Smile Without You: The Effects Of Barry Manilow On Depressed Baboons.

Doctor Spiegleburger's sloth paper was explained by himself at a small Q&A session in the airy gym of the Eldred Senior Center in the town of Provo, Utah. There to hear him was an audience of 7 people, including myself and the groundskeeper. The setting became even more intimate when the groundskeeper shuffled off to find a working microphone and never returned.

The Doctor's Sloth Theory goes like this: We humans see only one dimension of the sloth's life, the down-time, the vacation. When a sloth is not resting in a tree, casually munching on berries or climbing lazily, it is working. This most likely means patrolling the space-time continuum, making sure everything is in check, identifying and correcting paradox. According to Spiegleburger, the sloths are far more exciting and important to our existence than we give them credit for.

Doctor Spiegleburger claimed to have infiltrated into the most clandestine realms of slothdom. He told us that in the Sloth system the two-toed sloths work as time continuum janitors, making their way through the time stream and cleaning up the messes made by everyday choice and possibility. The three-toed sloths work as time continuum safety inspectors, investigating paradox, preventing time travel by humans, and generally working to make sure no choices are made that cause our timeline to collapse in on itself. He also noted that giant sloths (thought to be extinct for thousands of years) work as upper management, directing the smaller sloths, determining salaries, OKing vacation time and planning birthday parties.

His argument concluded thus: The side of the sloth that we always see is the one enjoying a vacation from stressful and difficult work. With their time travel technology, resuming their vacation from the exact same moment they left it before is a simple thing. Sloths play a more influential part in the lives of man than we could possibly realize. And what's more, they hold all the cards and will probably keep us oblivious to what they do for eternity.

This begs the natural question, what keeps the sloths from directing the course of history to their own ends and enslaving mankind?

With a knowing twinkle in his eye, Doctor Spiegleburger leaned forward and offered this: "Sloths are content with their lot in life."

Then there was a slight ripple in the air between us, a moment of disorientation, and everyone present at the Q&A swore that "content with their lot in life" was not what the Doctor had actually said. But when we went to ask him to repeat the answer, he was gone. And if you were to look up Doctor Leon Spiegleburger in any scholarly journal or even on the Internet, you would find that he no longer exists and in a more telling way, never did.

Portions from Dr. Spiegleburger's Notes: