It’s Sunday, August 3, 2065. (It’s real. You can look it up.) Milton and Melinda Millennial are sitting on the overstuffed bean bag couch in the living room of their suite in their retirement home. Their nose and lower lip piercings are now gaping holes in their faces. The “sleeve” tattoos on their arms, that were once the epitome of cool, are now the epitome of purple skin. Milton is bald on top with a ponytail; Melinda’s gray hair has a blue streak down the back.
Milton swears under his breath as he paws at the buttons of a large remote that controls the hologram creator their only son Apple gave them for their 50th anniversary.
“Milton!” Melinda scolds. “Apple told you not to just press buttons. It makes the hologram of Artie, (Apple’s son. Their only grandchild) wonky and distorted.
“I’ll figure this out,” Milton grumbles. “I worked IT for years. I know my way around a computer.”
“Apple said it isn’t a computer.’ Melinda explains.”It’s a multi-factional interface decoder.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Milton grouses. “Let’s see, main power on, interface on, volume and image control on. I swear, technology was a lot simpler in our day. All we had to do was swipe.”
“Milton!” Melinda shrieks. “Language! You know that word diminishes those who have no fingers.”
“Oh, swipe, swipe, swipe swipe!” Milton snarks. “Everyone has to be so danged sensitive about everything nowadays. There’s no fingerless people here. Who cares if I say it?”
“They watch us through the TV,” Melinda warns.
“It’s not a TV, ” Milton says sarcastically. “It’s a multi-factional interface decoder. Remember?”
“Wise acre,” Melinda says with a charming smile.
Suddenly there’s a buzz, and a wonky, distorted hologram of their grandson appears.
“Press the ‘perfect image’ button, Dad,” Apple’s voice can be heard saying in the distance. “I told you not to press all the buttons.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Milton grumbles. “I got the crazy thing to work, didn’t I?”
“Dad,” Apple interrupts. “Artie has a question for you.”
“What is it, sonny?” Milton asks the hologram.
“We’re studying ancient history in school,” the hologram explains. “And our teacher told us to ask our grandparents about the awful summer of 2020.”
“No!” Melinda cries. “You’ll trigger your Granddad’s condition.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine,” Milton says. “What do you want to know?”
“Well,” the hologram says, “Teacher said 2020 was a really hard time. Is that true?”
“You have no idea, sonny,” Milton growls. “They were harder than hard times Why, there were times when we thought we were going to run out of toilet paper.”
The hologram gasps.
“That’s right,” Milton says. “We were down to like two and a-half rolls.”
“Whatever did you do?” the boy asks.
“We worried a lot, boy.” Milton replies, fighting back the tears. “But that’s nothing compared to the horror.”
“Horror?” The boy asks.
“Uh-huh,” Milton says, now unable to hold back the tears. “In that horrible summer of 2020, we were forced to (deep, dramatic gasp), wear a mask whenever we were in public.”
Milton crumbles to the floor, sobbing like a baby.
“I knew this was going to happen,” Melinda says as she helps Milton to his feet. “I’m going to give him his nightly sedative and put him to bed. You tell your classmates to be glad you’ll never know our horror, Artie. Good night, boy.”
“Good night, Grandma, good night, Grandpa,” the boy cries. “Sorry for triggering Grandpa’s flashbacks …”
PFCSD: Post Face Covering Stress Disorder.
Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.