The Best of Corona

d'Lëtzebuerger Land vom 14.08.2020

I’m no fan of the coronavirus. Let’s get that out in the open. It’s a trash virus that can die alone in a dark alley as far as I’m concerned, gunshot wounds to vital organs. And no funeral, please. No love. No nothing.

However… being from the American Midwest, as I am, I’m hardwired for positivity. For soaring and almost lethally naïve levels of optimism. It’s how we are. If Titanic (the movie) had been written, shot, and produced exclusively by Midwesterners, the tagline would have been: “It was probably for the best!” So, while the USA annihilates itself with fake news, Luxembourg gets unjustly blacklisted for its corona rates, and reports from everywhere else are generally grim, I want to focus, in a mood of sanguine and purposefully relaxed stupidity, on the bright side.

Now, then, certain knock-on effects of the trash virus, I would argue, aren’t all bad. I’ve already written in past months about how moving our lives online during the isolation saved time, lowered stress, and delayed our destruction of the planet. As much as possible, I’d like all that to continue. But there are other positives. For starters, fellow cranks like me will have noticed that the coronavirus era has ushered in an entirely new platform on which to be judgmental of strangers. I don’t know about you, but I judge the hell out of strangers. What else is there to do, mentally speaking, when you’re in public? Especially when your phone battery is running low? Badly fitting clothes, groovy hairdos, weird styles, embarrassing stuff that you overhear. People are freaks. (Myself more than anyone, lest you get the wrong idea.) Anyway, lately, I’ve been enjoying a brand new type of righteous indignation directed at people flaunting the Covid-19 rules. Noses poking out over masks, the brutal death of social distancing, the return of large parties. That sort of thing. A friend of a friend of a friend’s boss puts on his mask by fitting it first over his eyes and then sliding it down to his mouth. Let me say that again so you can picture it. Over his eyes. Then sliding it down. Every time. Why? Why? Why? And you see, it’s only because of the pandemic that we know, definitively, exactly how this guy was going to be psychotic about it.

I guess it sounds cynical for me to qualify this as something positive, but I’m utterly genuine when I say I derive real pleasure scurrying home to my partner and swapping notes on all the monsters out there. To all my fellow neurotic germophobes: you know what I’m talking about. Plus, on the flipside, and just as importantly, when I see sweet, caring folks following the rules to a T and worrying themselves stupid over this little worldwide public health emergency, I get a nice fuzzy feeling.

Drive-in cinemas are another huge positive. Oh, baby. Why oh why did we ever stop doing this? I love watching movies in the theater, and I’ve missed it terribly, but sitting through a film in your car is a newfound joy. Best of both worlds, private and public. Basically, you’ve driven your entire living room to the city for a night out. Unlike at the theater, you can bring an entire picnic, kick off your shoes, yell stuff at the movie. But you’re still out in public, being seen, sharing the experience with others. I’ve been three times already and I’ll keep going. Let’s make this an annual summer thing, please.

Or the new seating configurations in restaurants. Having more room between tables has literal benefits such as putting distance between you and noisy parties (and stopping the spread of the virus or whatever), but it also seems to calm down the whole atmosphere. Is that just me? I find everything a shade more relaxed, as if the extra physical space equals extra mental space. No? Maybe I should see a therapist about possible agoraphobia. Actually, that might well be what I’m dealing with here. OK, that’s on me.

No more greeting friends and acquaintances with a kiss. What a godsend. I don’t care how many Belgians still try to kiss me eight times after we’ve spent a mere hour apart for lunch—we’re not doing that anymore. And the government backs me up on this.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the entire world has changed its behavior to match what some of us have always wanted of it. Not that the trash virus was worth it. Hell no. I’m only talking about certain gentler aspects of everyday life: hand sanitizer is omnipresent and people actually use it; germs are contained inside facemasks; crowding is prevented via updated queue rules in shops; workplaces are making genuine efforts to go remote. Even if we’re already fast reverting to the old ways, experiencing caution fatigue, letting the germs win again, for a while we made a damn fine effort to touch the sanitary face of god… though just to be clear, touching your face, or indeed anybody’s face, is, strictly, not recommended.

Jeffrey Palms
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