Our evenings are full of social isolation, teens and tweens anxious to get out of the house and weird presentations about unfamiliar topics.
Could life be any more wonderful? For a change, I ask that without a hint of sarcasm.
As we maneuvered through the third week of kids home from school amid the coronavirus pandemic, their creativity took a strange turn … into offering digital presentations.
That’s right, PowerPoint — that pariah of office life where we watch people literally read the words off a screen to us — has found its way into the entertainment at our house. Technically, we’re using Google Slides, since the kids are more familiar with that web-based program.
We can’t claim to have invented this genre. Our older children (and their parents) enjoy watching a ridiculous TV show called “Impractical Jokers,” where four friends make each other do silly things in public, whispered into their ears via an earpiece.
One of their favorite punishments is to make someone stand in front of a group of people and give a presentation they’ve never seen before.
Thus began our new form of entertainment, at the urging of our children. We scatter to the different corners of our house and build 10- to 12-slide presentations that someone else will offer, without practice, to the rest of the family. Then we connect a laptop to the living room TV, standing in front of it as if we’re on a stage giving a speech in front of a screen. Each slide is a surprise, requiring you to think on your feet and react to what it says.
One night, I was challenged by my 11-year-old to explain why frogs ate all the dinosaurs in the world. According to my presentation, the frogs all dressed up like police officers to lock the dinosaurs behind bars, then they sliced them up with knives (held by both their back and front toes together) so they could feast. The remaining dinosaurs were plotting their revenge on the blood-thirsty frogs, though.
Another night, I stood in front of our family offering our 18-year-old daughter’s presentation, “Rating the Trinko family and pets.” She had silly pictures of each of us on screen, listing our pros and cons. (I cook good food and make them laugh, but I’m embarrassing in public. My wife is a good photographer and hard worker, but she’s bad at gymnastics in “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020” video game.)
Somehow my 12-year-old daughter ended up having to present my slides twice. That’s how our resident Apple iPhone fanatic presented “Why Apple phones are better than dog poop,” uttering such classic lines like iPhones are “produced by children in China,” while dog poop is “produced by dogs in America,” complete with photos to illustrate the point.
The previous time, she offered up “Famous Joes in history,” including real people like Joe Biden, Joe Stalin (usually called Joseph) and Joe Ratzinger (usually called Joseph, often called Pope Benedict XVI). The final three slides include a strange picture of a bikini-clad Joe Gatto from the aforementioned “Impractical Jokers,” Snoopy dressed as Joe Cool and then a picture of my wife next to the name “Joe Mama.”
And so it goes, these presentations about “Top short people,” “Top 10 greatest animals” and “Best Disney movies,” all loaded with funny photos and ridiculous premises.
In a pre-coronavirus world, this weekend would’ve been our oldest daughter’s senior year at dinner theater for the high school choir. We’ll move from oral presentations to song-and-dance numbers this weekend to keep that tradition alive. I’m terrified of what we’ll have to do once what would’ve been dance recital weekend comes along, since I’m not even blessed with two left feet.
Before too long, lives will return to normal. I know that. Until then, I’m going to treasure these hilarious and memorable evenings together, when we’re willingly isolated together and trying to enjoy as many moments of it as we can.