April 22, 2020
By P.J. O’Rourke
Oops… My title for this essay came out looking a little more ominous than I intended. Sorry. But you know what I mean. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is no laughing matter, but after a month of home lockdown, the risk that a lot of people could die of boredom is… no laughing matter either.
I’m not an expert in epidemiology, but I am an expert in boredom. I’m a major producer – as my family can attest, especially during my dinnertime rants. (No one has actually said, “One more word about Elizabeth Warren and you’re getting the tuna casserole right in the face.” But I can see the look in their eyes.)
And I’m also a major consumer of boredom. I’ve been “working” from home for decades. Working from home is – as so many of you readers have found lately – just like regular working except you have to be your own workplace pal. (“I’m making a fresh pot of coffee. Would I like some? I’ll bring me a cup. I take it with half-and-half and no sugar, right?”)
You also have to be your own workplace rival. (“I can’t believe I think I deserve a raise. If I were me, I’d fire my dumb ass.”)
Plus, the only person you have to gossip with at the office water cooler (aka the kitchen sink) is you. (“So, what I heard from myself is… But don’t let me know that I heard it from me…”)
Therefore, when it comes to boredom, my family naturally expects me to lead the way. “Dad can bore us!” And I’ve been doing a darn good job so far. Perhaps I can help the reader bore his or her family too.
This is just mean (unless you provide them with ample sugary snacks). My dad had an alternative that provided comparable parental relief from kiddy racket. It’s called “Submarine.” He used it on long car trips. Dad would say, “We’re all submerged in an American submarine during World War Two and we’re being hunted by Japanese destroyers. If any of us makes even the slightest noise, the Japanese destroyers will hear us on their sonar and drop depth charges and blow our submarine to bits and we’ll all drown.”
This worked for about five minutes. Then my sisters and I would begin poking each other and giggling and squealing. The “depth charge” that dad dropped was to tune the car radio to his favorite music station. Think Perry Cuomo. (Lots more boring – though less scary – than Andrew…)
The second round of Submarine usually lasted longer. But if my sisters and I absolutely refused to be quiet, my dad would light a Hav-A-Tampa cigar with the windows rolled up and we’d all get carsick.
Speaking of getting sick and the chief executive of New York State, you could try a game of “Governor Cuomo, May I?”
But my children aren’t little anymore. So I taught my wife and kids how to play poker. This was fun… for me. I now own all my wife’s good china, my daughter’s iPhone, iPad, and Bluetooth ear buds, and my son’s entire baseball card collection. (Perhaps I should have warned them about drawing to an inside straight.)
We’re getting pretty tired of all the board games we’ve got in the house. But I’ve been working on ways to modify the rules to make the games… boring in a new and different way.
Federal Reserve Monopoly – Use your photocopier to print as much Monopoly money as your supply of copy paper allows. Whenever a player lands on an “essential service” (railroad, utility, Community Chest, Free Parking, any property with a house on it, or a hotel not owned by Donald Trump), give him or her a billion dollars.
Bernie Sanders Monopoly – All the properties are free. Income Tax is 100%. Luxury Tax is 200%. Whoever owns Boardwalk and Park Place has to give all his or her money to the owner of Baltic and Mediterranean and spend the rest of the game in jail.
Social Distancing Parcheesi – The object of the game is to keep each of your playing pieces six spaces away from any other playing piece.
Fox News/MSNBC Clue – Forget the game itself, the most ridiculous accusation wins. For example: “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did it with a Russian biological warfare laboratory in a nursing home in Washington State!”
Alt. Right Chess – Only the white pieces can move.
Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Jigsaw Puzzle – Arrange puzzle pieces so that not a single one of them fits with any other.
And, lastly, if you’re really bored…
Trump Bridge – played without a full deck and everything is Trumps.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
Will the most popular job in 29 states disappear?
Something big is quietly unfolding in America, and it’s being accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. This is going to cause tens of millions of people to lose their jobs, and in fact, it’s been predicted that millions of people in a single industry will eventually have their jobs essentially eliminated. (Hint: It’s the most popular job–and a good-paying one–in 29 U.S. states.) Full story here…
The massive selling gripping the oil market is now spreading to more futures contracts, worrying investors about the deep economic damage being done by the coronavirus shutdowns.
RESTAURANT APOCALYPSE: 8 million restaurant workers are now unemployed, as the industry braces for $240 billion in losses
Roughly 3% of the restaurants in the US – or 30,000 restaurants – have already shuttered. In the early April survey, an additional 5% of operators said they anticipated closing in the next 30 days, meaning that more than 50,000 restaurants could shut down permanently.
L.A.’s COVID-19 Infection Rate May Be 55 Times Higher Than Previously Confirmed
Since antibodies develop from being exposed to the virus, that would suggest that 221,000 to 442,000 adults have had COVID-19. At the time results of this study were reached, earlier this month, only 7,994 cases of the virus had been confirmed via traditional testing. That number is now up to 13,816.
Cemetery Races to Keep Up as New York Virus Deaths Mount
As the world retreats and the pandemic’s confirmed death toll in New York City alone charges past 10,000, funeral directors, cemetery workers and others who oversee a body’s final chapter are sprinting to keep up
How Epidemics Change Civilizations
The coronavirus is threatening “the economic and political sinews of globalization, and causing them to unravel to a certain degree,” Mr. Snowden says. He notes that “coronavirus is emphatically a disease of globalization.” The virus is striking hardest in cities that are “densely populated and linked by rapid air travel, by movements of tourists, of refugees, all kinds of businesspeople, all kinds of interlocking networks.”
And let us know what you’re reading at[email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
April 22, 2020