Weary Pilgrim – Coronavirus Vol.V
It’s snowing. In May. I am constantly underestimating the universe’s penchant for irony. The Guv’ lifted the ban on golf, and I made my first tee time. Now I didn’t fall off the Turnip Cart, so I wisely made a bet that it would rain. Silly me. I have to learn to think BIG. I just made my second tee time for next week – I’m thinking locusts next Saturday. Get your crops in.
Remember the old mantra about camp food? It sucks – and there’s not enough of it. Well that’s where we are on these tests – Abbott labs has an antibody test that was announced like it was the Second Coming – turns out it has a false negative rate of 15-20%.There are about eight other antibody tests and they have even worse failure rates. And there really aren’t enough of them. The Viral tests are all over the place – but I have two friends who were told by their doctors that they most certainly had the virus, but at the time there was no point on being tested, largely because it wouldn’t change their treatment, and also because at the time there were no tests easily available.
So, where does this leave us? Up that old familiar creek in a stone canoe with a tennis racquet for a paddle on a rising tide. Thank the Good Lord we can count on out Federal Government for ... umm ... give a minute here, it will come to me ... Well, we DO have state governments that function – rather well, to be sure. There are a few south of the Mason Dixon line that are flirting with disaster, but up here in the Frozen North, data, careful deliberation, and balanced decisions Carry The Day.
I talked to a friend in Washington DC who runs a huge hotel down there – he says they don’t expect to be back to a full recovery until 2022. But he says the toughest part of this shut-down is the effect on his three year old son – this is the time for his boy to adapt to socializing with other children – and that simply can’t happen. On top of this, just when we were starting to believe that young children were immune to this virus, it turns out that some are indeed most vulnerable. It’s one thing to weigh our own need to socialize with our friends versus our chances of catching or submitting to this disease – but all bets are off with the little ones. When and how do we make these choices for our smallest citizens? I remember the old saw that, when you have your first child, you spend an incredible amount of time holding mirrors under their noses while they sleep – by your third child, you let them juggle knives. Somehow deciding how and when our smallest children should ease back into everyday life is like juggling knives on a unicycle – blindfolded.
Another friend of mine who is a reporter for Bloomberg News tells me that NYC is currently feeding one million meals a day to its hungry and poor citizens. As if we didn’t have enough shame to go around. Georgia, currently the shame leading state in my book, has decided it may not be good for tourism to gun down black joggers, at least when it gets posted on You Tube. Food giveaways throughout our country are plagued not by lack of food so much as traffic control – the proper venue for these food giveaways used to be church parking lots. Now it’s the professional sports stadiums. What does that tell you?
The whole mask thing is awkward, uncomfortable and confusing. Legislation is basically the codification of morality. The problem with mask legislation is that it is also an attempt to codify etiquette. If your parents didn’t raise you to care about what others think, you may not be taking to this mask thing well. I have seen people lecture total strangers. I get it - but it’s embarrassing nonetheless. I keep wanting to break into my Rodney-King-Why-Can’t-We All-Get-Along routine.
I have taken to choosing from a small arsenal of masks for a range of purposes. On a windy day I go straight bandana. If I expect a close encounter of the friendly kind, I have tighter cotton masks for those intimate aerosol moments. For shopping I have a ten year old tight fitting N95 mask I discovered in my paint supply closet. I have a newer N95 mask I bought before the pandemic, but that begs the whole mask shaming thing, so I’m holding it in reserve in case I actually get sick, at which point I really won’t care about social blowback as much as not infecting the universe.
And then there’s the economy. It used to be that the stock market reflected the value of a company, and whether or not that company could make a profit. Now we have companies, a whole slew of them, reporting no sales, no profits, and no expectation of getting back to work, at which time they won’t have any parts from which to make things, and no customers able to buy them. And their stock is not only not in the cellar – it’s on the second floor looking for the stairs to the attic. You know what the stock market is? Nero’s fiddle.
Yet here we are – trusting in our governor to steer us off the shoals. Ready to get back to work, if not the restaurant. About to play golf, about to go boating, about to do all those things we did whenever the hell we wanted to back in the good old days of February. The question we really want answered is: when can we have friends over without masks? It’s a fascinating question, because the only person that can answer it is the only person asking it. Ourselves.
See you on the street. I’m the one smiling behind my mask. Just trust me on this.