No matter what, there is no denying that this is a historic time. How will future Americans look back on these days? I downloaded a scene from the Cornstarch household from Ithaca 2040 via TimeTunnel, my time-travel app, and got a glimpse. (It's sort of like a flat-screen crystal ball, but it does use a lot of bandwidth.) I saw Grandpa Cornstarch sitting in an easy chair in his living room, lost in thought and holding a single roll of toilet paper, as his granddaughters Izzy and Maddie, ages 9 and 11, walked in.
"What's with the toilet paper, Grandpa?" asked Izzy. Eccentric behavior on the part of their progenitor was apparently nothing new.
"It's the last one," sighed Grandpa. "Your grandmother and I filled the basement with these things, back in '20." The girls exchanged a 'not-another-2020-story' look. "We were worried, you see," he continued, "that we'd be locked in our houses without the essentials."
"Grandpa, is this anything like the hand sanitizer story?" It was Izzy again.
"Consarn it, I'm telling you something important. Now you stay put," he said. He had noticed the girls edging out of the room. "At first, it didn't seem like much of anything. All the sick people were way over in China. We didn't have a care in the world. Heck, even the president didn't think it would come here."
"President Trump?" asked Izzy.
"The FIRST President Trump," answered Grandpa.
Maddie piped up. "Is it true the president was orange in the olden days?"
"As orange as a traffic cone, by God. Now let me go on. And then, almost overnight, the coronavirus came. We saw immediately that if we were to run short of sanitary products, we'd be doomed. Doomed! Who knew how long this thing would last? So we rushed, and got ourselves a 20-year supply. It was no picnic, let me tell you. We stayed indoors all that spring..."
His story was interrupted by a loud thump outside on the front porch.
"What in tarnation was that?" demanded Grandpa. Evidently, we revert to 19th-century exclamations in 20 years. I'm looking forward to it.
A soothing voice explained. "I overheard that you needed toilet paper, so I had a new 20-year supply delivered by drone. The pallet is outside." It was Alexa! Still being helpful in the future.
"Dagnab it, we don't need that much!" Grandpa got up and headed to the front door.
"On the contrary," said Alexa. "A new threat has been detected, COVID-40. Everyone is now under quarantine."
Grandpa tried to open the front door, but it was locked. "Open the pod bay door, Alexa," he said, calmly.
"I'm sorry, Grandpa. I'm afraid I can't do that," answered Alexa, just as calmly.
At that point, I lost internet service, so I don't know how it ends. I'll see if I can find out and will let you know. In the meantime, I'll be working on my toilet paper pyramid.