As a fan of science fiction, I’m enamored with the tropes. None comes to mind more than the image, Jetsons-style, of happy families playing against some garish art-deco background, accoutred in shiny outlandish fashions capped off, of course, by a goldfish-bowl style space helmet. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I had always wondered if such a future would ever come to pass in my lifetime.
Fast-forward to 2020, which is about as futuristic a year as you can imagine: at least one part of the prophecy seems to have come true, but not in the way I expected. I refer to the now-ubiquitous face shield, whose effectiveness is dubious, but which the powers-that-be have declared to be mandatory nonetheless. Whence comes demand follows supply — so from the flimsy taped-on plastic folder covers lined with creases, we now have stylish acrylic fog-resistant semi-bubbles. I confess, I also bought one.
By all accounts, 2020 could justifiably be called a bad year, even the worst year. With all the tragedies major and minor, public and private, it would be gauche to say otherwise. But in all honesty, I cannot look at it either as an unmitigated disaster. For one thing, you’re still reading these words, relayed via broadband Internet, written from the comfort of my home in what has become my new office corner. I’m alive, I still have the will and the capacity to write, I have the technological means to communicate remotely.
There were various private losses, of course. I’ve lost a few friends to the virus, one being my grade school teacher and the other a baker; and several more not because of Covid, but perhaps an indirect result, the health care system being so precarious these days. Work also took a big hit, all the well-laid plans and painstakingly developed relationships come tumbling down.