What would you put in your time capsule for the pandemic?
A time capsule for 2020 starts with a face mask. N95, surgical, cloth, bandana…
Bandanas always remind me of a skit from summer camp. Clustered by cabins, we sit with our group on the grassy knoll rather than the splintery and hard benches which make ten minutes feel like forever. On skit night, counselors and brave campers take to the wooden-planks on the stage of the amphitheater. The backdrop is a curtain of velvety deep blue sea. Camp is rich in skit tradition and this skit is a tried-and-true favorite; invariably, it gets performed every year. It starts when a counselor, wearing khaki shorts, hammers onstage with thick-soled, lace-up hiking boots, then stumbles and pretends to be a sweaty, over-heated, hiker. The couselor, while doubled-over and heaving, asks in their best out-of-breath voice to be handed a moistened bandana. They clearly need to cool down with a refreshing towelette. The goofy, sidekick companion bungles up from behind, but they hear ‘banana’ instead. The pal is confused and makes kooky hand gestors and expessions and tries to get clarification from the exhausted hiking partner, but is told, in an exhasperated, lispy voice, to hand over a “BANANA!” Dutifully, the buddy pulls a banana out from the backpack. They flatten and moisten it using the last of the water from their bottle. The worn out and unwitting first counselor reaches a hand back, takes hold of the offering and smashes a peeled, soft, wet banana into their face.
Audience erupts in laughter.
We are not laughing. Summer camp’s been cancelled.
Everyone is fretting for school for the fall. What will we do? What will our children do? What is in store for the future?
I see in the future another summer camp skit. One where curious counselors are sitting cross-legged on the same saltwatered and sun weathered planks of the open air stage in front of crowds of wild haired, wide-eyed kids. They are opening a time capsule. Twisting and turning the cap, what will they find? They tilt their heads to the sides and press their ears close to the opening. Like listening for gentle wooshs of waves inside a conch shell, they are listening for whispers from the past. Then, they peer, with big eyes and furrowed browns, into the capsule’s cavity. It must be dark and somehow expansive in there. An metaphor for our past. What treasures and secrets can this capsule contain? They reach in slowly, first fingers, then hand, then wrist and forearm are swallowed into the mouth of the time capsule. What do they find? Something. Something is there. Something real and tangible. They yank it out. Ewww, it is a banana instead of a bandana!
The crowd guffaws and giggles.
For the sake of our future, now is our chance to be able to look forward, then look back and laugh. It was just a bandana–a face mask. Hindsight is 2020.
Orange you glad I didn’t say bandana.