Back to Normal?

By Ernie Witham   |   December 14, 2021

I know that many people are now touting that 70 is the new 60 and 40 is the new 30. Does that mean that 10 is the new fetus?

They also say that telecommuting is the new work standard. Does that mean we should all get water coolers with life-size computer screens so we can stand around and gossip over Zoom about the new guy in accounting – who’s probably working from a coffee-wine-massage-psychotherapy studio in the Funk Zone?

“I heard he and the woman in human services, who actually works from a beach parking lot, have been having telesex!”

“Wow. I hope they’re using a virus protector.”

And what about autonomous cars? Will we still have to go to driver’s ed and pass a test at the DMV? Will a robot give us the test? 


“Ah, put on an extra blanket and drink brandy instead of beer?”

I guess that’s why some of us just want to go back to the old normal.

“You sure have some weird thoughts, dude,” a voice yelled out from the living room.

“Yeah, maybe I do, Techie Guy. Now stop talking and figure out why my 75-inch, Class 4K Crystal Ultra-High-Definition LED Smart TV with HDR makes everything, including the news, look like a bad soap opera.”

I watched as he opened several menus, made some adjustments, and finally, movies started looking like movies again.

“Afraid I can’t do anything about Fox News and CNN,” he said. “I think they are soap operas.”  

I went to my office and began my first attempt at a rewind – getting back to work on my novel. I pulled out the typewriter…

“Whoa, that’s a big keyboard? Where’s the screen? And the flash drive?”

“No memory. Just printed pages. When you rewrite, you start over. That’s how we did it in my day.”

“Archaic, dude. Did you ever see a dinosaur when you were a kid?”

I started typing… “Eddie ran to the closest phone booth and checked for pocket change…”

“What’s a phone booth, dude? And what’s pocket change?”

I was about to fire him, but then he said: “Just wanted to know if you like bright or muted colors on your TV?” 

“Normal,” I said. “I just want normal.”


But he had a point. My text did seem a bit dated. Plus, if I threatened to fire him, he had the ability to set my television up to only receive the QVC network and reruns of the Great British Baking Show. I let him work and moved on to my next attempt at reversing time. I went to the garage and dug out my golf clubs. I hadn’t played since the day I lost 20 golf balls on the first three holes and injured my big toe kicking the golf cart. I took a couple swings.

“Whoa, dude, your woods are actually made of wood! You should take those on the Antiques Roadshow. Oh, and your television is all set. Don’t try to adjust it again by yourself. I’ll send you a bill. Please don’t pay by pocket change.”

I put the golf clubs away. Maybe I’ll move on to No. 3 on the list. Going back to the gym. I put on some shorts, threw a towel around my neck, and drove downtown. The place was still in business! I typed in my phone number and scanned my index finger. “See Team Member” came up on the screen. I tried it again. Same result.

“Name?” the team member asked. “Phone number? Date of birth?”

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in,” I said. “I have a Silver Sneakers account.”

“Wow! Two years ago,” she said. “Silver Sneakers probably thought…”

“That I died?”

“… No, that you gave up exercise.”

I sucked in my gut and tried to lift my chest back to where it used to reside. “I was stuck living the new normal.”

She typed in more information, had me rescan my index finger, and said, “Well welcome back.”

Yay! I stepped up on an elliptical machine. I started it up and began ellipticaling. My hips hurt, my legs cramped a bit, and I couldn’t breathe.

“Hooray! I’m normal,” I yelled.

Not sure everyone in the gym agreed with me.


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