I am nothing if not an active participant in the horror stories I tell. In many ways, much to my personal harm, I resemble a method actor in the approach to a subject. I try to subsume my reality into whichever state of crisis either the concept, the narrative, or the grim reality forces upon me. I’m one of those people who, with a different background, and in a different life, could have been a war zone reporter, wearing a helmet and flak jacket while scribbling down notes about the awfulness I am witnessing through the noisy distraction of guns being fired and bombs going off. But that’s just me. It has nothing to do with the concept for today.
I spent a quiet day being mostly quarantined (for the true horror story, we just got word that the liquor stores will be closing after tomorrow, Sunday, a day when, in the past, they were never open in the first place–it should be interesting to witness the chaos of nervous people buying enough booze to last through the apocalypse. I will be there, reporting from the front-line), trying to spread a different message. I have been considering this piece all day (after the grim, satirical confusion of three stories yesterday), and my method acting approach has led me to a minor cure for the fear and paranoia all of us, at least to some degree, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise (my teenage son, for example, is all strutting macho, claiming too many times that he doesn’t care about the “stupid coronavirus,” even going so far as to state, probably accurately, that it won’t harm him. Yet his repeated intensity belies an absolute terror of a world he has yet to truly experience, watching it tear itself apart into an uncertain future), we could all benefit from.
This is a difficult thing for me to say, being such a thoroughly negative and hopeless person, but something happened today to made me feel a whole lot better. This whole day consisted of getting up, making breakfast for my family, running to the drug store for a few minor essentials (including a refilled prescription, me being a Type One Diabetic and therefore, I guess, aware of potential personal weaknesses in a crisis), then returning home, watching TV, throwing a ball around with my son, walking the dog, watching my son play his newest Playstation game (the new baseball one), coaching him through a killing spree in Grand Theft Auto (whichever number), then watching a show with my wife, helping my daughter cook all of us dinner, reading, playing with the dog, reading some more, watching another show, drinking–not a lot, but enough to create an impact–and then soothing myself down into writing this curiously hopeful piece. And you know what I didn’t do, the one thing that is making me more cheerful than the descending misery of yesterday? I didn’t watch the news at all.
It’s true. Now plenty of people are condemning the press for their endlessly terrifying coverage of this dread disease. I mean, we should all understand why they are doing it, providing whatever moment-to-moment information available, warning us of dangers and potential side-effects. In fact, still for some reason an unpopular notion, I would like to applaud the press–all of them, even the most right or left-wing biased outlets, for staying on top of the story and offering what amounts to the same consistent story. Now the politicization of the terms of illness really start with the President, his endless lies and denials fueling yet another brush fire that threatens to tear our nation apart. It leads left-wing conspiracy theorists to see something else within a pandemic, and watches the right-wing paranoids somehow settling in, telling their brethren not to worry. My suggestion, only mildly possible, that apparently fired up about seven different sides of a debate in one of the chat rooms I am now promoting this, was that maybe those infected foreigners with the President were never really sick, and that the suggestion that they were was really only in place to pretend like Trump is invulnerable. That guy had it, but Donald Trump is clean! He isn’t worried! He is immortal! Nothing can harm him! He can lick the fucking microphone after that drooling sack of disease speaks and still flex his muscles to prove he is strong. Is he the second coming after all?
My suggestion was made in jest, the sort of engineered conspiracy that a gutter level conspiracy theorist like Donald Trump might enjoy. It is all superman shit, his staff talking about how perfect the tests were, the test itself being completed more than a day before the projected outcome. Is it fake, all bullshit, just another lie from a man who knows no other way to communicate with we the people, those he is incapable of caring about? It is a suggestion. It is a possibility. I mean, “people are saying it,” after all (me!), so maybe it’s actually true?
No, I did not watch the news at all today (my addiction, no doubt, will compel me to witness the latest disaster about five minutes after submitting this essay). And you know what? I feel better, not just physically, avoiding the chaos of all these people surrounding me rushing through the stores with their race car shopping carts, truly believing that everyone other than them and their dearest are going to die. No, I feel better inside, inside my mind, a period of rest. We all need rest sometimes. We all need just a day to let go of our problems. That was today for me.
So take a break from it all, humanity, and find something otherwise to occupy your mind. We can resume the horror story shortly, one which will never likely end, after a few more games, a few more missed TV shows, a movie you hate on Netflix, and a book you start that you will probably never finish. We need distraction, a board game you will stop playing once the gang of you grow bored, perhaps the whole thing descending into a laugh riot of who can cheat the best.
So relax, you few bothering to read this. Get drunk, get high, inject a speedball, whatever new experience of inebriation that may have once appealed to you (a newfound dedication to the bible might suffice as well). Sure, don’t overdo it, but otherwise, what harm could it do compared to the nervous heart attack that otherwise looms over the TV news?