Writing about coronavirus is challenging because the situation changes so fast. My deadline is Tuesday. By the time you read this, things could be getting better — or could be much, much worse.
Nevertheless, as I sit here at home — not in my office or at the Suwanee McDonald’s where I normally write — I can’t help but entertain a panoply of random thoughts. After all, I don’t have anything better to do. (I’ll politely refrain from pointing out that neither do you.)
My first observation is that I envy all you young parents with children at home. You’re lucky. I know, I know. It doesn’t feel like it when they’re fighting and complaining and making messes.
I’ll just note that my kids are all grown and live 2000 miles away. I’d give almost anything to have them here right now — to see them sprawled in the den, watching mindless TV. To hear them bickering and bellyaching about being bored.
So count your blessings. As hard as it is to be with your kids all the time, it’s even harder to be separated from them at a time like this.
Second, I have to say something about all the panic buying. I ventured out into the madness and found it, frankly, surreal. Missing were the camaraderie and good humor that accompany similar runs on the store before a weather event. Also missing was all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
No, the panic isn’t altogether unwarranted. It looks like we might be confined to our homes for the next few weeks — that may have become official by the time you read this — and we all want to make sure we have an adequate supply of the necessities. That’s just common sense.
Yet getting caught up in a near-frantic mob was a sobering experience. I learned that panic buying is every bit as contagious as coronavirus, possibly more so. I just went to pick up a few items, but I constantly found myself walking by stuff I don’t even like and thinking, “I absolutely need 14 cases of that!”
Mostly, I resisted. On the bright side, I did allow myself to buy a few things I do like but wouldn’t normally buy — like Froot Loops. Long my favorite cereal, they have nevertheless been relegated to the “must avoid” category because — well, you know. I’m trying to be healthy here. I lost a bit of weight a few months ago, and so far I’ve been able to keep it off.
That means, among other things, eschewing sugary cereals — not because one bowl is bad for me, but because eight bowls definitely are. And when it comes to Froot Loops, I have no self-control whatsoever.
Then again, amid the breakdown of civil society, who cares? When the coronavirus police come for me, they will doubtless find me with a multi-colored tongue.