Living Through a Pandemic: The Lighter Side

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The photo disproving the adage that duct tape is the answer to every need.

 

 

Please don’t get me wrong: I am appalled, shocked, infuriated, and beyond sadness at what’s become of our country and world.

But I also know that laughter is the best medicine, and even smiling has been shown to have a positive effect on our immune systems. As we all need our immune systems to be as strong as possible now, I thought I’d tell you some fun things—a few real, others of undetermined origins that have found their way to my inbox. (I hope you haven’t seen them already!)

Earlier this week, my husband and I, both in the vulnerable population due to our being past 60, set out for our every-day-it’s-not-raining walk. Our next-door neighbors, a lovely couple with two sons, ages 3 and 5, rode past us, each on a separate bike. 

The dad, bringing up the rear, offered to add our grocery list to his when he went to the supermarket on Saturday. We gratefully agreed. Then the three-year-old, up front on his little bike, offered his own assistance: “And if you have any monsters in your house, call me!” 

Imagine our good fortune having a monster-destroyer just steps from our home. We’d no idea. “Gee, I said to them, “you’re a full-service operation!”

We do go to the supermarket ourselves during the newly enacted “happy hour” (my term, not theirs) for seniors and other vulnerables: 6:00 to 7:30 am. Actually, my husband goes, as my body clock isn’t at all happy at that hour. 

I arise a little later and quickly begin my responsibilities, preparing the kitchen for THE DECONTAMINATION: the washing and spraying and otherwise new bloodless rituals to slay the invisible foe that may be (but probably isn’t) lurking in our groceries. 

Are we being super-cautious with our decontamination? Not according to Michigan Family Physician Jeffrey VanWingen, in this demonstration video.

Yes, according to Dave Price, an ICU physician at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York, whose soothing video says just wash your hands well after throwing away the bags. (His entire lengthy talk about protecting your family from the disease, though it has some technical glitches, is well worth watching–except that he keeps talking about Purell, which most of us can’t get.)

For the time being, we’ll err on the side of caution–even if our broccoli sometimes tastes a little soapy.

My husband describes his forays in the sparsely populated supermarket: he’ll start down the aisle, see someone about to enter from the other end, and reverse his direction. Simultaneously, the other person does the same. Result: the aisle remains empty in prime shopping time.

This pas de undo conjures up less a ballet than a scene from an old Western when both gunslingers at the OK Corral retreat simultaneously. Any suggestions for aisle etiquette arising from the new phenomenon will be most welcome.

When I hear horror stories about couples on the edge of divorce after just a few weeks (and the divorce rate has definitely soared in Wuhan, China), I realize how lucky we are. Our house isn’t large, but it’s big enough so that we can each have privacy. Thus, we haven’t been at each other’s throats, and we find enough absurdities in our situation to laugh a good deal. 

Except, that is, for the Bagel Dispute. It occurred because we are both aware that the stash of bagels from our beloved bagel store is rapidly dwindling—and alas! The store was an early casualty of the self-quarantine. We saw the owner, whom we’ve known for years, interviewed on the news, when he lamented that he just couldn’t keep going for long. 

Our last visit was three weeks ago, immediately after that interview. My husband quickly went in for a dozen bagels—buy six, get one free—which afforded us 14 bagels. 

He said the owner looked appropriately depressed. When my husband tried to cheer him up, acknowledging his 15 sad minutes of TV fame by requesting his autograph, the poor man glumly said, “You’re gonna have to pay me for it.” He and his bagels will be missed.

Back to our dispute. We cut the bagels in half and froze them in two large plastic bags. They’re big, so we usually have one-half at a time. Yesterday, after I had eaten a half, I thought there was one full bagel and one-half left in the bag I’d extracted it from. We took stock. There were two whole bagels in the other bag. “We have six halves,” quoth he. “No; we have seven,” insisted I. 

But the evidence-based fact, verified by the observation portion of the scientific method to which we firmly adhere, was that he was right, which made me, de facto, wrong. The big fat bagel half remaining in the bag sure looked like a full bagel, but it was not.

End of dispute. Cue more laughter. If this is how bad things get, and we’re lucky and careful, we’ll make it through. Of course, the bagels still aren’t completely gone…and bigger tests lie ahead.

At least we have enough toilet paper for the nonce—though we thought we should shore up a bit and found that was impossible. Who would have thought that toilet paper would be the gold bullion of this pandemic? 

Or that it would become the source of so many jokes. If you’re on FaceBook, you’ve surely seen the toilet paper roll in place, with each little square bearing a letter: M, T, W, T, F, S, S. Or perhaps you’ve seen the one that opens this post.

The astonishing news, according to an Op-Ed in The New York Times, is that we’ve had this toilet paper thing all wrong: toilet paper is BAD for us! Or so says writer Kate Murphy:

“…toilet paper is an antiquated technology that infectious disease and colorectal specialists say is neither efficient nor hygienic.” 

I’ve included the link so you can decide for yourselves whether this is one less concern for you to fret about—as long as you have running water. A bit of history for perspective: according to Murphy, substances that preceded toilet paper included “leaves, seashells, fur pelts, and corn cobs.” Ah, the good old days!

One of the things about the good old days a month or so ago was that most kids went to school. My heart goes out to parents who have also become their children’s teachers. This bit of pathos appealed to me:

Home Schooling Day 3: They all graduated. #Done.

Here’s one for all who care about writing well:

Out of an abundance of caution, the MLA and the Chicago Manual of Style will be reinstituting the “two spaces between each sentence.”

And the inevitable comparison with “Man’s Best Friend”:

You thought dogs were hard to train? Look at all the humans that can’t sit and stay.

Dogs have been the stars of a number of humorous bits. Here’s one of my favorites.

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The other is Pluto, the talking dog, whom I gave the last word to in a previous post. I didn’t realize at the time how many of you had already seen her. That was her first appearance, but she continues to show up, making Pluto Service Announcements, or PSAs, such as Please stay indoors, and make sure that you look people in the eyeballs from a distance and wag your tail.

Pluto has become an Internet sensation. I was especially impressed during her Monday Funday episode, which yielded this astute canine observation:

A lot of the socialers have asked me for suggestions about how to spend their time during this period of hashtag home. It’s not a stellar declaration of the two-legged imaginations that you’re asking me about this…

But I echo Pluto when she says:  “We’ve got this. We’re all in this together. Be kind to one another.”

If you have any smile- or laugh-inducing stories/jokes of your own, please insert them in the Comments box. Consider it a public service.

Annie

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