Six Post-Pandemic Brainstorms to Prove Invention is the True Mother of Necessity
Ideas borne of isolation and possibly too much coffee
By Ed Goldman
I’ve been reading about how many people used the global house arrest to, variously: (a) create art; (b) learn homeschooling skills; (c) master stress-reduction techniques from homeschooling; (d) teach themselves to cook; (e) use GPS to triangulate where the nearest pharmacy was that still had a supply of Pepto Bismol; and, (f) order copies of “DIY Divorce: The Self-Isolating Couple’s Guide to Alienation of Afflictions and Other New Legal Terms.”
Some people have even developed what they hope will be Post-Pandemic inventions. I am one of those people. I think that a lawyer friend was recommending I register these because, as he said, “They’re patently absurd.” I initially thought this might have been a shot—but because it contained the word “patent,” I’ve since written it off as a jealous compliment.
My six brainstorms include the following:
1. ANAL-RETENTIVE HOUSEPETS. I know, I know, it sounds inhumane. But I assure you that no critter was harmed during the genetic-engineering phase. A number of my lab assistants were, however—especially the ones working in our Large Animals Division, where they discovered that sliding a Depends® onto a hippopotamus is a little more fraught than it may sound. On the other hand, the opossums and ferrets in our Amiable Animals Division were not only cooperative but also proved to be surprisingly ticklish. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a ferret giggle.
2. AUTOMATIC DISHWASHER LOADER/EMPTIER. A friend of mine once suggested that the best way to save time and energy doing the dishes would be to have two dishwashers sit side by side: You’d simply load up the empty one as you unloaded the one filled with dirty dishes and silverware, and never have to schlep anything across the kitchen ever again. These color-coordinated appliances would each include a retractable arm to load and unload the two dishwashers in concert—or possibly on iTunes (sorry, but I’ve never understood the expression “in concert” unless it refers to a musical performance of some sort).
Well, I thought this was a great idea but then grew worried about the future of the craftspeople who make china closets, especially those with the little lights inside them so you can distinguish the Spode from the Oneida at a glance and thereby lose no I’m-just as-rich-as-you luster with your dinner guests. So for now, let’s just call this—as I’ve been called, all too frequently and not in a manner I’d deem to be constructive—a work in progress.
4. AUTO-CORRECT CORRECTER. Are you as fed up as the known galaxy is with this device on your reportedly smart phone—the one that juxtaposes one word in a sentence like “I think this is unclear” to “I think this is nuclear.” Or that turns a suddenly omnipresent term like “the novel coronavirus” into “the novel, ‘Coronation on Venus’”, which sounds like a new, unauthorized Star Wars story.
In journalism, an editor or copyreader has two funny little words to indicate “Remove this word” (dele) or “Leave it in, I must’ve been drunk when I wrote ‘dele’”(stet). In other words, there’s a precedent for reversing yourself—i.e., correcting a correction.
I’ve turned my invention into an app, but am making it available only for stubborn transitioners from IBM Selectrics®, who evidently miss that miraculous sold-separately white ribbon.
With a single click of your iPhone, or a series of them with your thrifty droids, you can greatly reduce dialectic inflections but also select—from a lengthy list of United States regional tones—a new sound for your tech helper.
There’s Deep South Drawl (“Hah! Hooow kin we mike yer phone grite again, jess lack America?”) or New England Katherine Hepburn-tinged Can-Do-It-Ness (“Oh, fah Gawd’s sake, stop yaw whining, pick up yaw device and let’s get on with it!”).
My preferred voice takes me back to my childhood in Bronx, New York (“T’ink I got nuttin’ bettah t’do dan play nice wit’ your phone, Pal? Fawgeddaboudit!”)
With just a flip and a shake, your patterned PJs can become, for ladies, an attractive monochrome pants suit, as popularized by Hillary Clinton—or, for fellas, a 1970s leisure suit that all but begs to be accessorized with love beads, a dashing neck scarf and the growth of mutton-chop sideburns.
The ladies’ pants suit comes in shutter green, the gents’ leisure suit in powder blue. Make your new parole a fashion statement!