Vip Wan Rinkle was a hasty young man, always in a hurry to see the world’s newest advancements as shown on those hip movies like Back to the Future II with hover boards and flying cars and all. Oh how rad that would be! Yet here he was, trapped in lame old 1999, where wheels were still a thing. His mom would always nag at him to appreciate the present because it was a gift and all that junk. He just knew that there was a whole new world of innovation waiting for him in 20 years, so why should he have to wait for it? He imagined the possibilities: artificial intelligence roaming the streets, holographic phones, and overall a world with little to no problems to worry about. With a newfound stroke of inspiration, he hollered at his loyal canine companion Doug to be his Doc to his Marty McFly and help him create a time machine to 2019. The details of this massive undertaking are far too complex for this story, but it was finished in one afternoon sitting if you can believe it. With the press of a button, Vip could finally ditch his preachy mom and live his own life in the future. As he passed through the time gate, he found himself in another body, one much like his own, but larger and hairier. It had seemed that time caught up to him as well. Doug had grown so old he could no longer move his paws, leaving Vip no choice but to roll down a window and leave him in the car. As he entered his hometown of Fresno, he noticed it was not the metropolis he had envisioned and that it was mostly unchanged, save for a few buildings. The town seemed unaltered, maybe slightly larger and more populous. There were rows of houses he had known for his whole life lined up in his neighborhood with the same boring paint-job. That made it easy to find his house, where he expected to hear the shrill voice of his mother. And she did, unsurprisingly. “I can’t believe you ran away into the future so you could avoid paying my healthcare when I got older!” she nagged. “Not like I expected you to get a steady job anyways in this economy.” “What do you mean ma?” Vin asked confusedly. “Wasn’t the future supposed to fix everything? There was gonna be flying cars and hover boards!” “Oh you still won’t let that go you dolt? The future’s not always going to be about new fangled gadgets, spectacle, aesthetics and what have you– though it does scare me how much my phone can gobble as much as a turkey now. A lot more has changed in this nation’s soul than its shell.” After catching up with the media later that night, Vip understood what his mother meant, and how much work was left for this world that couldn’t be solved with a simple wheel removal. For now, his future fantasy would have to wait.
This piece is an imitation and a parody of Washington Irving’s short story “Rip Van Winkle” in which a man finds himself lost in time when he wakes up 20 years later in an entirely different America from the one he knew. In that story, Rip was genuinely shocked at the changed world around him, as the people and policies he once knew were entirely different. This imitation goes in a different direction by focusing on the fantastical and ideal nature of the future that people dreamed of by watching movies and media such as Back to the Future II, and demonstrates humanity’s constant hope of the future when things don’t go their way in real life. Just like any average 90’s kid, Vip thought that going into the future and skipping 20 years of his life would lead him to a world where technology was so advanced, there would be no worries in the world. Instead, he finds an America that is largely the same aesthetically and whose major developments have actually occurred within his country’s soul and ideals. While 90’s kids might not be impressed to hear that Marty McFly’s automatic drying jackets and playing cars do not exist in 2015, or even 2019, they might find it more interesting how far representation has come for minority groups in the media, how the internet has made it possible to have open conversations about the world, or how LGBTQ couples have generally become more accepted in society. The future has not completely fixed any of these issues, but it is clear people have made great strides in creating the America they want to see. Overall, “Vip Wan Rinkle and the New Generation” shows that while society may be evolving at a slower pace that most prefer, it is changing every day, and everyone has their own part in shaping the definition of what it means to be an American.
–By Jose Ramirez