Gimme a Smile: Living in a time of greatness

By Peggy McKee Barnhill

We are living in a time of greatness. We’ve got the Great Resignation, where workers have quit their jobs en masse and ridden out into the sunset in search of happiness. There’s the Great Reset, a global effort to rebuild the economies of the free world. We’re in the midst of the Great Return, with work-from-home employees shedding their jammies and returning to the office in person. I’d like to remind the Universe that the Great Recession has already happened — we don’t need a rerun of that financial disaster. But we could use a few more Greats:

— The Great Rewriting: Imagine an effort to rewrite all the works of Shakespeare using nothing but five-letter words. Think of the job creation possibilities! Each line of Shakespeare’s 37 plays (not to mention his poetry) would need to be completely rewritten. Only Wordle fans need apply.

— The Great Refresher Course: Whether you need to brush up your skills in parallel parking, balancing your checkbook, or the proper use of the Oxford comma, there’s a refresher course out there for you.

— The Great Reversal: In a rejection of technology, the Great Reversal is an effort to revert to the use of paper maps, printed dictionaries, and manual typewriters that come with a built-in printer—no toner required. All you need is a ribbon and you’re good. You can pound away on your keyboard even during a power outage, look up all the words that begin with “re” in one fat book, and navigate to your favorite café using a paper map. Better take a refresher course in map-folding before you hit the road, though.

— The Great Refraction: This innovative government program dispenses magical eyeglasses to all its citizens, enabling us to see things from someone else’s point of view. Side effects of this effort include the disappearance of the term “four-eyes,” as everyone now wears glasses. On a side note, have you noticed that kids who wear glasses are teased, but people who wear sunglasses are seen as glamorous? The difference between the cool kid and the nerd rests solely in the shading of their lenses. There must be a moral in here somewhere.

— The Great Revival: Not a religious event this time, the Great Revival refers to the surging popularity of jacks, tiddlywinks, and other tactile games where players can use their highly evolved opposable thumbs to manipulate three dimensional objects in lieu of simply swiping or pushing a button to play video games.

— The Great Reduction: Promoted by cooking shows, this movement touts weight loss through the culinary technique of reducing sauces. The process involves constantly stirring the sauce until it reduces in volume—a great form of exercise. During the time it takes to reduce the sauce, the average diner loses interest in the dish and turns to fast food alternatives like apples or pre-cut celery sticks to satisfy their hunger.

— The Great Relocation: While people may be moving out of cities to chase the good life in the suburbs, the Great Relocation refers to the effort to reorganize one’s home to accommodate ever larger television sets. When I was a kid, our TV sat on a stand with wheels, allowing it to roll between the dining room and the living room at will. We could watch the news during dinner and then swivel the TV around to sit on the couch while enjoying The Wonderful World of Disney. Today’s televisions can reach seventy-five inches on the diagonal and must be affixed to the wall to avoid tipping over and crushing the cat. One must relocate couches, love seats, and the dining room table to set up the proper viewing space centered around that massive, immovable TV.

— The Great Reality Check: In the midst of all this greatness, it is important to pause and take stock of reality. Even though the great movements detailed above are the products of a fertile imagination, true signs of greatness abound in the world. Be on the lookout for the next Great thing today!

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother, and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life.

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