It’s 2021 and the elephant is really smelly. I don’t think he’s washed since 2019, so I finally managed to persuade him not only to stay in the room, but that he needed to wash and shower.
[The elephant represents the economy and this is the eighth conversation with him in a series]
As we stood in the shower together – I still had my pants on, fyi – the elephant looked happier.
ME: You like the shower?
ELEPHANT: It’s nice. I feel better.
ELEPHANT: Do you have a nice one?
ME: I have this spice and lavender mix.
ELEPHANT: Let me smell it.
The elephant extended his trunk and sniffed.
ELEPHANT: I guess it will do.
ME: So, have you made a New Year’s Resolution?
ELEPHANT: What’s that?
ME: A New Year’s Resolution? Something you will do in 2021 that you didn’t do in 2020, but you feel you should have done.
ELEPHANT: Like what?
ME: Like diet, lose weight, exercise more, give up eating donuts.
ELEPHANT: I don’t eat donuts.
ME: I know, but you get the idea. You resolve to do something differently this year compared to last. To make yourself better.
ELEPHANT: But I’m wonderful.
ME: You are, but you lost weight last year and you were nasty and smelly. Maybe you should shower more.
ELEPHANT: OK, that’s my New Year’s Resolution. I will shower more.
ME: That sounds good.
I liked the idea of a nice, clean, good-smelling economy.
ELEPHANT: What about the bird?
[the bird represents the future]
ME: What about the bird?
ELEPHANT: Shouldn’t the bird shower too?
ME: But the bird doesn’t smell like you.
ME: Because when it drops its’ waste it falls to the ground as the bird is in the air.
ELEPHANT: And me?
ME: When you drop your waste, it falls all over us, everywhere.
ME: So, the bird’s crap is not as stinky as yours.
ELEPHANT: Are you saying I’m full of crap?
ME: Well, you said it yourself.
ME: You’re the economy and not an economist.
ELEPHANT: You’re saying the economy is full of crap?
ME: No. I’m saying that most things to do with economists is full of rubbish.
The elephant looked perplexed as he soaped his armpits.
ELEPHANT: But I thought economists were meant to be really intelligent.
ME: Many of them are.
ELEPHANT: But how can people so intelligent be so rubbish, if what you’re saying is right?
ME: Because they have no idea where you’re going to go next.
ELEPHANT: But they do know. I’m the elephant in the room.
ME: I know that. You know that. They don’t know that. They can’t see you.
ELEPHANT: They can’t see me?
ME: They can’t see you.
ELEPHANT: So, how do you see me?
That stumped me. I put soap on the elephant’s back.
ME: I guess I see you because you showed yourself to me.
ELEPHANT: But I never hid.
ME: I know that. You know that. But they don’t know that.
ELEPHANT: Does that mean they can’t see the bird either?
ME: I guess not.
ELEPHANT: So, what’s an economist here for?
ME: To guess what the future might be.
ELEPHANT: They just need to see the bird.
ME: I know.
ELEPHANT: And if they saw the bird, they could see me.
ME: I know.
ELEPHANT: Where is the bird, by the way?
I wasn’t sure. We towelled down and went back to the lounge. The bird was on the window-sill. I don’t keep him in a cage anymore. You can’t cage the future. After making a nice cup of tea, we all sat together.
ME: Bird? What’s going to happen this year?
The bird tapped away in morse code as usual.
ELEPHANT: What did he say?
ME: I thought you understood his code now?
ME: He says 2021 will be good.
ELEPHANT: How does he know?
ME: Bird, tell me more. How do you know?
The bird tapped.
ME: He says he just knows and that, by summer, everything will start feeling normal again.
ELEPHANT: A new normal?
ME: A new normal, yes. But normal.
The elephant smiled. The bird went for a fly around. I drank my tea and snoozed. As I slept, I dreamed about the summer and wondered if it really would be normal. What does normal look like? Is this the new normal?