I just finished doing some research on time capsules. What I learned was disturbing. Any questions?
Q: What could possibly be disturbing about time capsules?
A: Everything. I mean, I get it. People want future generations to understand the past. So they go through their stuff, put some of it in a box and bury it.
Q: What is wrong with that?
A: The past, it turns out, is boring. Also, smelly. Very smelly.
Q: What do you mean?
A: That’s what the research shows. And that’s the problem with time capsules. Their contents often stink. I mean that in every sense of the word.
Q: But don’t people love time capsules?
A: People love the THOUGHT of time capsules. Who knows what they’ll find inside? That’s why people turn opening one into a big whoop-de-doo. The whole town gets invited. They serve cookies and punch.
Q: Again, what’s wrong with that?
A: They leave disappointed. Think about it. A time capsule is like a birthday present from your eccentric great aunt, except after she gives it to you, you have to wait 25, 50 years or more to open it. If you even live that long. And if you do live that long, you find the box is filled with yellowed newspaper clippings you couldn’t read if you wanted to. Plus, the punch tastes watered-down.
Q: Do people ever get impatient and open time capsules early?
A: Absolutely. According to my research, the Dafoe Shipbuilding Co. in Bay City, Michigan, buried the John F. Kennedy Peace Capsule in 1965 with instructions to open it in 100 years. But the city council got antsy and opened it 50 years early.
Q: Were they expecting to find something historically significant inside?
A: That’s hard to say. The shipbuilders failed to make the capsule watertight and, with the exception of a large pair of ice tongs and some Bay City Centennial plates, most everything was ruined.
Q: So what SHOULD people should put in a time capsule?
A: I personally think gold and silver are timeless.
Q: Are you sure you’re not thinking of a pirate’s treasure chest?
A: Maybe. Still. Ok. All I’m saying is that it’d be nice if people were willing to part with something a little more valuable than a black-and-white booklet from the local labor council.
Q: Like what?
A: How about something future generations might actually find interesting? Like a vintage sea monkeys kit. Or a souvenir ceramic ashtray from Acapulco. Or Abe Lincoln’s mother’s recipe for chicken fricassee. You know, something that tells you something about the people who buried it. Or could at least give you a new dish to try for Sunday dinner.
Q: You mean the fricassee?
A: I’ve always wondered about the sea monkeys.