Deep Thoughts About the Coronavirus Pandemic
By P.J. O’Rourke
A friend of mine said, This is like being 16 again – gas is cheap, and I’m grounded.
Two months into the coronavirus pandemic, I remain confused and perplexed. I’d say “I’m lost,” but that doesn’t seem like the right metaphor. I’ve spent 60 days going nowhere except from the couch to the kitchen, and by now I’m pretty good at finding my way.
However, although I know all too well where I am physically, I have no idea where I am philosophically. My libertarian principles are rankled by federal, state, and local government stay-at-home orders. On the other hand, I’m 72 years old, I smoke, I drink, and I’ve spent almost six decades on the Hunter S. Thompson health and fitness plan…
A series of strange events have been happening in Washington, so Dr. Ron Paul put together a short video to help you prepare for what’s coming next. Click here.
Anthony Fauci thinks I should obey the government guidelines. He seems to be the smartest person in the room, at least as far as rooms at the White House are concerned. Also, he’s got this accent… I mean, not to stereotype Brooklyn Italians or anything because Fauci is a brilliant scientist and all that, but… Hedoes have the kind of accent that makes you think that if you don’t go along with his social-distancing demands you’ll wind up with a horse head in your bed sheets.
Plus, there’s my wife to be considered. She just got out of self-quarantine, which she put herself into for my sake because what our teenage kids call COVID-19 (when they think Dad can’t hear them) is “Boomer Remover.”
My wife hasn’t actually said that I’ll leave the house over her dead body. She doesn’t have to. I haven’t stayed happily married for 25 years by underestimating her willpower and capabilities. I’ll leave the house over mydead body.
So I’m home, thinking deep thoughts.
Will I discover that I really didn’t like going anywhere anyway? Leaving the house – that’s getting way too far away from the refrigerator…
Will a 21st century Jack Kerouac publish a controversial novel called On the Couch?…
Will a millennial Shakespeare write plays like…
O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
I’m home watching ‘Tiger King!’
And why do economists keep confusing me with their “letter” descriptions of the economic recovery? They talk about a V-shaped recovery in which the economy quickly rebounds to where it was in 2019. But then they warn that we might have a U-shaped recovery with a much slower return to prosperity. Then they say we could have a W-shaped recovery if there’s another spike in virus cases.
I’m afraid the economists will start using the rest of the letters of the alphabet. Selfishly, I’m thinking we could have an I-shaped recovery where the economy comes back… but only for me.
However, it’s more likely that we’ll have a T-shaped recovery, where the economy returns just for the very top layer of the economic strata, meaning nobody but Jeff Bezos.
Or we could have an L-shaped recovery… that’s no recovery at all.
Perhaps an O-shaped recovery, like the old rhyme that goes…
When in danger or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout!
How about a Z-shaped recovery after we all get bored listening to economists’ predictions and go to sleep?
Or an X-shaped recovery, where we all die.
No matter what kind of economic recovery we have – if any – this crisis seems sure to make everyone feel more dependent on government. Will American citizens turn into little birdies in their nests looking up with open beaks waiting for mother government to fly down and feed them?
We’re going to get worms for dinner.
Speaking of animals, ASPCA shelters are empty. Everyone is adopting a dog. Is this a sign that the pandemic has renewed our sense of compassion for the lonely and abandoned? Or is it something different? Is it like the current all-time high in gun sales? Has there been a run on pit bulls?
Pet shelter attendant: “These dogs used to belong to Michael Vick.”
General public: “I’ll take three!”
Memo to newbie gun owners: Do not look down the muzzle to see if the thing works.
Memo to newbie pit bull owners: Ditto.
Another pernicious result of sheltering in place is that we’re all spending far too much “screen time.” This can have a bad effect on in-person communication. For example, my 16-year-old son told me about a classmate of his who, at the dinner table with his parents, blurted out, “Have you noticed how much the basement where Joe Biden is doing his campaign videos looks like the set for an amateur porn movie?”
Mom: [Tuna casserole spit take]
And the kid’s dad did not improve the dinner table atmosphere by saying, “Nonsense, son. Amateur porn sets hardly ever have an American flag in the background.”
On the upside… Many of us may discover that we look better in a face mask. I do. Maybe strict Muslims are onto something here. Perhaps this is the secret to the burka. Although they really ought to use it on the guys.
And I’m thinking that for many guys this could be beneficial to their online dating experience. There are beautiful women out there seeking an attractive match, and maybe they’ll start going, “Oooo… look… He’s got a N95 mask! Swipe right!”
With the use of Zoom, we could go beyond online dating. We could achieve online marriage, which would have certain advantages, such as “Internet in-laws.” Spam-block that brother-in-law!
Plus, guys would get to raise their kids via videoconference. You can mute them any time you like…
But where will babies come from?
Probably where a lot of them come from already – the UPS man.
Maybe, along with a change in the status of marriage and family, the pandemic will bring a change in social status. People who used to be the upper crust are looking more and more like nothing but a bunch of crumbs who stick together, hunkered down in their summer houses learning to live without domestic help. Former Wall Street “Masters of the Universe” are boning up on the Chapter 11 chapter in their old business school textbook. If you’re used to having people bow and scrape to you, now is not the time to be an oil baron, CEO of J.Crew, or the captain of a Carnival Cruise Line ship.
A new elite is emerging, a different kind of aristocracy that we all look up to and to whom we all owe the greatest respect and deference…
“We’re so proud of our son at Yale – he’s studying to be a grocery store checkout clerk.”
One more deep thought: I suppose we get the crisis we deserve. Before the coronavirus outbreak, our nation was deeply divided. Americans were becoming painfully separated by ideology and culture. It seemed as if we were losing touch with each other. A crisis is supposed to bring people together… And now we get a crisis that keeps people six feet apart.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
New York Sent Recovering Coronavirus Patients to Nursing Homes: ‘It Was a Fatal Error’
After mounting criticism and thousands of deaths in New York nursing homes – including several individual facilities that have lost more than 50 residents – the state on Sunday reversed the mandate, which said nursing homes couldn’t refuse to accept patients from hospitals who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Misunderstood Python Hunters Saving the Everglades
Pythons are devouring native animal life in the unique ecosystem of South Florida. To help solve the problem, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials have turned to amateur and professional hunters to round up the reptiles in a wild competition called the Python Bowl.
How and Why America’s Food System Is Cracking
People are still eating, farmers are still farming, and grocery stores are still open, but in areas around the country, shoppers looking for meat, milk, and other products find empty shelves and limits on what they can purchase – all while farmers from coast to coast are forced to dump milk, plow up vegetables, and euthanize livestock. So what’s happening, and why?
And let us know what you’re reading at[email protected].
Editor in Chief, American Consequences
With the Editorial Staff
May 18, 2020