Po-Boy Views: Company Excepted or Together Alone
Apr 28 2020

Po-Boy Views: Company Excepted or Together Alone

By: Phil LaMancusa

"Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the performance?"

Relatively speaking, we are not all in this together, in the same boat, or up the same creek. And brother, if you think that, you may want to reconsider that, actually, we're all in the same barrel—like a barrel of fish that COVID-19 is getting set to shoot us into, knocking us off one at a time. As our esteemed experts have told us, it's time to duck and cover, because it's not if we're all gonna catch this virus; it's just a question of when. We will all get it to some degree, and as we read and hear, some of us will get it so badly that we wind up as a smiling photo on the obit page. We've been hit below the waterline. "Mortality is now the wallpaper in the room," as Tom Piazza would say.

So, what do we do? We self-quarantine to "flatten the curve." We do this so that we give our overworked healthcare system a chance to get those most immediate cases taken care of, so that they're not overcrowded when our time comes, should we get that bad. Lord knows, there are others in that line ahead of us that need care. If we're lucky at all, we will only experience a mild smackdown—a mere medical mugging. If we're lucky.

We make some semblance of our life in lockdown. We limit our exposure, wear masks, wash our hands constantly, disinfect items that are going to be inside our sanctuaries, and then we sit back and wait, as if the "all clear" sirens of the planet are going to wail, "Olly olly oxen free! Come out, come out, wherever you are!"

Good self-shut-ins do many things similarly. We stay up just a little bit later. We sleep in later with some degree of guilt. We make coffee, tea, smoothies, and feed the cat, walk the dog, shower, shave, and put on clean underwear. We clean our domiciles to a fault, and, because there's not much else we can get away with doing early in the day, we sit on our porches with a cup of something and an old newspaper, book, or magazine, and we wait for someone to pass by so that we can wave and say hello. People all over the neighborhood use their dogs as an excuse to get out of the house and walk about. Some forget to take the dog.

We wash dishes, make the bed, and wonder what we're gonna do with that 10-pound bag of potatoes that we panic-shopped. Every time we use the bathroom, we check our supply of toilet paper and hand soap, and no bath towel goes unlaundered. We care about other people and wonder how the less fortunate are making out, now that the bills keep coming in. We panic and call the bank to make sure that at least we are still semi-solvent. We check our email, Facebook, and Instagram, and wonder what will be on our menu today. Will we finally perfect that grilled cheese sandwich? We try again to get through to the unemployment folks. We wait for word that someone we know hasn't bought the farm. We don't use the word die. We take naps and baths and disdainfully watch our muscle tone disappear.

Objectively, we're happy as clams. Think, all this time to do whatever we want to do—except what we were all doing before this pandemic struck the world like a plague. Now, we can read, cook, catch up with mail and bills, and learn the words to "Funky Cold Medina." We can take pictures of inane subjects and post them for the world to see: our cat's hairballs, our disastrous attempts at cooking, our selfies while making funny faces, and outdated photos of our families. At times, we share a notice of another person's passing. We're essentially bored as sh*t.

It helps if you're quarantined with another biped or, at the very least, a critter. They act as a sounding board—someone to share meals, perspectives, chores, and warm-blooded comfort with. It's reassuring to see more movement in the place, besides the desktop and/or the ceiling fan. There are those people who, on a good day, professes not to be telly-watchers, but I tell you this: Without the one in our house, we would be a couple of snapping turtles.

We tune in to our daily dose of evening news on three channels, drinking coffee and having a homemade cookie or two. We have a Happy Hour on the bed with the critters, with cold beer and potato chips, and we stream entertainment on the smart TV with dinner and drinks. Then, it's time to walk the cur, have a nightcap on the porch, make some hot tea, and read until bedtime. Then we sleep (perchance to dream), wake up, and do it all again. Sometimes, we plan an outing for the early afternoon. Tomorrow, we're gonna clean under the refrigerator. We don't mention our phantom symptoms.

At home, social distancing takes on a whole new meaning. Double-digit days self-quarantined together can be exhausting; it's a thin line between selflessness and selfishness and a fluctuation between hugging and hiding. Know when to seek solace and when to seek solitude. The need for understanding, patience, and respect for personal space has never been greater. Do things in tandem, but don't forget to charge your own batteries.

Now, here's your motivation mantra: This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We're up against the ropes; we can come out of this as chumps or as champs. There's no such thing as "We'll get 'em next round." This is the telling round. Let's collectively bring out the champs within us. Do the right thing.

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