Scenes of a Pandemic

There must be a good side to the pandemic. What it is, you cannot say. You spend more time with your dog or cat. You appreciate the simple things, like embroidering masks or expeditiously ordering them online. You’ve learned one thing: there is more to do in a five-mile radius than you imagined.

It mostly involves walking.

Let’s see, you can stare at the political signs.

But there are other pandemic scenes. Let the masked ball begin!

1 Your neighbors entertain 50 unmasked people at a luau, just to make sure they infect everyone in the ‘hood. Covid is airborne, people! When will they learn?

A vintage Gothic novel. Has anyone raad it?

2 During Zoom meetings, you can now binge on e-book copies of cozy Gothic novels by Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Dorthy Eden. The plucky heroines quote poetry (at least in Mary Stewart) and visit a castle or a glamorous foreign country where they meet two eligible men, one of whom one turns out to be a killer or a jewel thief. They find the culprit, but do have to be rescued.

3 You acquire a huge collection of post-its, paper clips, folders, expensive fountain pens, and stationery. It is the equivalent of other people’s baseball cards or Barbies.

4 Since you didn’t follow Marie Kondo’s advice, you look through your old clothes and discover many are perfect for “loungwear.” Everyone loves the oversized Gap sweater from the 20th century, though the baggy fatigues may be too much.

6 After a hard day’s work, you decide to improve yourself by reading 20th-century American poetry. You binge-read Plath’s Ariel and decide her hymns to suicide are not her best work. You recognize Ariel for what it is–the book that captured the attention of Second Wave feminists. I do like her more elegant, formal ’50s poetry, though.

6 You spend more time than ever on the phone with the tech people, who give the same advice as the characters on The IT Gang: turn it off and on. But what if that DOESN’T work? You’d be amazed what they can walk you through.

The IT Crowd

7 You rediscover the joy of walking on sidewalks, after months of walking in the perplexingly less cushioned asphalt street to avoid other people’s spit. Now you’re too tired to walk on the street, so you hop off the curb if you have to.

Oh, and my favorite thing about the pandemic? We’re still here (as are you if you’re reading this).

Rock, Paper, Scissors

First, anchor your papers with a rock. Our notes flew off the table on the veranda of our favorite cafe. It was tiresome, because we are expert social-distancers, and had scootched our chairs as far away from the other tables as possible, and now the wind had scattered our papers. Should we race around to retrieve them?

And then a man who looked as if he belonged on the cover of a Regency romance, though he kept his shirt buttoned, stomped on the papers so they wouldn’t fly away. Thank God, though they were only notes, and looked more impressive than they were, because there were post-its stuck on the pages. I happen to love post-its, so it means nothing. But we’re all maskless (drinking coffee), and as he approached, I wondered how to signal we are social-distancing.

“Thank you so much!” I leaned back in my chair. And then I absent-mindedly rummaged through my bag.

My friend, horrified, whispered. “Don’t tip him. He’s not a waiter.”

I knew that, but I did need another cup of coffee. So I put on my mask to go indoors and get one.

Fun in the age of Covid!