“I keep thinking I can see the virus blooming on the horizon like a sunrise. I realize the world will continue to turn, even with no people on it. Maybe it will go a little faster.”
That’s from Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “Inventory,” which was written years pre-Covid 19, one of many “prophetic” observations that are out there, and one of the most poetic.
Today’s blog post (and the next four or five) will document and interpret the effect of the virus on me, someone who did not come in direct contact with the disease but, like everyone, found the indirect effects inescapable.
These are actuals from 2020, or things as they appeared to me. Testing here, food giveaway there, drive-in political rallies or concerts or a pro wrestling show. Another Monday that is not Margarita Monday.
1. The government has deemed the playground equipment off limits, considering it to be possible places of transmission of the virus. Every morning the maintenance crew from county parks wraps yellow caution tape around the swings and climbing structures. Hours later the tape will be torn off when parents bring their children to play in the park. The next morning the county crew gathers and disposes of the old tape that has been strewn around the park and then rewraps the equipment with new tape.
2. Any dream you had prior to 02/2020 is deader than disco, launch aborted, mission scrubbed. We’re all in abeyance together. No part of the world has moved on, there is no “them,” no “‘over there” where we can be glad we’re not: over there is here. Where I live, when I come back inside the house after stepping out the front door for a breath of fresh air, I have to quarantine for two weeks.
3. Cultural halls in megalopolis are as vacant as the strip mall storefronts in chronically distressed economic areas of the poorest countries in the world. The arena of ideas is also closed and padlocked. The canon is worthless anyway, worth less than a roll of toilet paper. Let’s face it, when it comes to the virus, all countries are shithole countries. The cultural edifices, seen as white, privileged and offensive anyway, may be converted to housing for the currently homeless.
4. And don’t get me started about the future. In addition to masks and social distancing warning bracelets, we are now required to have an Empathy Surveillance Monitor (ESM) attached to our ankle or wrist. The ESM will beep if it detects the wearer insufficiently expressing proper empathy as determined by social media algorithms. Citations will be issued and/or violators will be arrested and held without bail. On the plus side, maybe the virus will put an end to the shitshow called high school, the pep rallies and proms and homecomings and graduations, and then the reunions, endless reunions with people you never liked in the first place and who are deteriorating every time you see them at the reunion. Put a stake into the false heart of all that unnecessary gathering.