So many firsts, so little time

Posted on April 2, 1999

The race is on for the first millennium baby. Some experts believe the race should start sometime next week. Every year, the first birth is always an interesting event. Think of the accolades the first-born 2000 baby will receive.

Unfortunately, there's a better chance of seeing Burt Reynolds at a polka convention than predicting the day your child will be born.

I'm recommending people try other things that are more predictable millennium firsts. For instance, you could be the first person to buy a used car. The operation is simple — call any of the local car dealers. Tell them your plan. Maybe they'll work out a deal to throw in a pair of fuzzy dice.

The idea cup is bottomless. You could petition to be the first person in 2000 to jump rope while eating ravioli. Actually, you could become the first person to ever accomplish the feat. Many have tried, including Evil Knevil.

Why not attempt to have the first haircut? Or the first car wash? Or buy the first roll of toilet paper? There are so many things one can aspire to do.

What's the point in being first anyway? If you have to ask the question twice, you're not human. You might not even be natural. Most animals adhere to the policy "Survival of the fittest." A few lions and jaguars coined the term many years before Charles Darwin made a big deal about it. There is an instinctual chip embedded in most of us to finish first or at least to not finish last.

We've evolved enough to realize first isn't always best. Sometimes, it's appropriate to let someone else win. And it's possibly more fun to rub that in another's face.

But for the millennium, first is the only place to finish. Think back to the last time there was a new millennium. The year was 999, and possibly a prince, but not the artist formerly known as Prince, sang about an upcoming celebration. But there are not many records pertaining to firsts races, with the exception of the race to the New World. Leif Eriksson, a Viking and backup to Randall Cunningham, supposedly reached North America in 1000. He may have watched the ball drop on Times Square that year, but he probably had more important things to do, including getting a manicure.

According to the World Almanac, the only other thing noteworthy in 1000 was an improved plow design in Europe. Imagine that. Maybe centuries
from now, the 2000 almanac entry will read "improved transportation in America." I looked desperately for records of the first plow born in that millennium but could not find any. There wasn't even a listing for the first cow born or the first plant sown or the first horn blown.

Whether the newest set of firsts are important or not, it at least gives people something to shoot for. Couples everywhere will be claiming to have the first millennium baby. Don't get too caught up in the hoopla. There are plenty of other reasonable ventures that can be made. Why settle for anything less than a pair of fuzzy dice?