“I’m just in a kinda strange place right now.”                           

Last night I fell asleep and dreamt of the not-to-distant future. COVID- 19 had been cured, but its effects on society still lingered. Some things were the same, some things were different. Some things probably had more to do with the bottle of whiskey I drank before bed.

In the dream, the day began like any other. I woke up. I washed my hands. I pulled out my to-do list for the day. I sanitized my to-do list. I washed my hands again. I marked ‘wash your hands’ and ‘sanitize your to-do list’ off my to-do list. I sanitized my to-do list again. After that, I jumped on the internet to read the news of the day. The top story was that the United States had taken the unusual step of not only voting Donald Trump out of office, but also (taking a page out of France’s playbook from 1814) exiling him to the island of Elba. All that impeachment process for a barely a slap on the wrist, and he went on his merry moronic way like nothing ever happened. That’s no way to get rid of a president. Quarantining him on a distant island is definitely the way to go, and they couldn’t have chosen a better island. Elba is the go-to location for banished leaders neck-deep in Russian quagmires – it’s a no-brainer, and this was a future I could get used to. No personal jet packs or laser swords, but it was the first time in a long time that I had read the news without wanting to stick a pencil in my eye sideways. Hmm… no jet packs, though…

My dream morphed towards more visions of futures we were promised but which didn’t pan out. I dreamt about the personal robots we were all supposed to have by now. I dreamt about that disastrous time I tried to make my own robot by gluing an Amazon Alexa to a Roomba. I remember saying, “Alexa, clean the floor,” and then asking scant seconds later, “Alexa, how do you put out a robot fire?” I dreamt of driverless cars and, lucid for a moment, wondered why the closest I’d ever come to occupying a driverless car was that time in New Mexico when my Uber driver forgot where – and who – he was in the middle of an intersection while high on peyote. Not the same. My dream alerted me to another hard truth – growing up, discussions about what life would be like in the future never included locking ourselves indoors for months trying to hide from air and people. I am fond of both those things…

My dream-within-a-dream was starting to exhaust me, so I returned to reading the news in my original dream. The next story centered around companies that were discontinuing products they had introduced specifically for people quarantining at home. Now that people were congregating again, Calvin Klein would no longer be producing its ‘Cologne Alone’ line of fragrances aimed at recreating the scents of crowded spaces. According to the story, now that people could experience smells in the outside world once more, the following fragrances would no longer be available: Crowded Locker Room, Movie Theater in Summer (Air Conditioner Broken), and Table Next To The Bathroom at a Coffee Shop. Shame.

The article that followed was a piece on how Catholic grade schools in America were beginning to hold school dances again. Before the coronavirus outbreak, students dancing together had always been told to keep at least twelve inches between them to “leave room for the Holy Spirit.” This owed to the fact that cotton briefs and a thin layer of denim does little to provide the necessary protection required to keep lusty teenage rubbings at bay. Abstinence demands distance. School administrators were now increasing the prescribed distance between dance partners to a more protective two meters – or roughly the length of one horizontal Jesus. Although the coronavirus was no longer an issue in my dream of the future, the article implied there was little chance the Catholic Church would be rolling back these restrictions any time soon. The ‘Keep One Horizontal Jesus Apart’ rule seemed to be here to stay.

Most sports leagues were taking social-distancing rules even further. For instance, in the English Premier League, players were now required to stay at least three meters from any member of the opposing team. This was proving no problem for Manchester United who had been playing this style of defense for years before anyone had even heard of COVID- 19. I then thought about how, COVID or no COVID, I would always enjoy not liking Manchester United and about how calming a feeling that was.

With that, I abruptly woke from my dream. The present I woke to seemed less assured of itself than the future I had been dreaming of. Regardless, I got out of bed, I washed my hands, I wrote “Go outside, but stay one horizontal Jesus away from others at all times” in my to-do list, and then I began day-dreaming about the not-to-distant future.