Coping with Coronavirus

By John Addyman

I figured, I’ve got this coronavirus thing handled — no problem. Tell me I’ve got to spend some weeks at home and I’ll enjoy myself.

First, my wife and I will have time to enjoy a nice late dinner out, something we don’t do nearly often enough. It’ll be like a date night for us.

But wait, they closed the restaurants and taverns.

OK, I thought to myself. This is the perfect opportunity to go deep on some books in the library, put a binge readfest together for myself.

Then they closed the library.

OK, I thought to myself. Instead of improving my mind, I’ll improve my body and set up a daily schedule at our local gym. I’ll be buff as a Greek god by summer.

So they closed the gym — while we were there for its last hour of operation. I’ve closed some bars in my flaming youth, but I’ve never closed a gym.

“How about a movie?” my wife suggested.

Of course the movie theaters were closed.

“Wait a minute,” she said, “Hello, Dolly!” is coming up soon. We have tickets!”

That sounded great…but within hours, the theater canceled the production.

Goodbye, Dolly.

‘In so many ways, the shape of this worldwide coronavirus tragedy gives some of us a chance we’ve never had to slow down and take on things that we left on the sidelines long ago.’

“I have a great idea,” I told my wife. “Let’s go to a school board meeting! We can show our civic pride! We can see what’s going on in our grandchildren’s schools in two school districts! We’ll social-distance ourselves from all the other two or three parents who will be there!”

Then the school boards decided to have their meetings by live stream, with no members of the public allowed. We coped, but watching a school board meeting on a computer with a beer and some popcorn is really a weird experience.

“What can we do to pass the time?” my wife asked.

I looked at her in that old certain way and my eyebrows danced an encouraging and flirty dance on my face.

“You can forget that,” she said. “I’ll make you a to-do list…a long to-do list.”

So much for dreams of conjugal bliss.

“Maybe we can snoop around and find out where the black market for toilet paper is,” I suggested.

My wife just looked at me.

“We could rake up all the rest of the leaves in the yard and put them in big bags and sell them, just in case toilet paper disappears completely,” I suggested.

My wife went back to reading her book.

I decided to watch some movies and because it’s Lent, I decided “The Ten Commandments” would be a good choice…and it was until I got to the part where the Destroyer comes like a green fog in the night for the first-born of Egypt.

That’s when it hit me — that’s what this coronavirus is: a secret, scary, silent, sinister and slithery thing that is lurking in the dark to capture us. Some won’t know they’ve acquired it. Some won’t survive acquiring it. And lamb’s blood on our doors won’t do much good this time around.

So after some thought, my wife and I have settled on some things about these days of our lives.

• First, we’re going to take walks and enjoy our village and perhaps a stray neighbor or two we meet on the way. We’re going to watch spring bloom. For once in my life, I’m enthusiastic about cutting the grass and spending some time in the garden (doing what, I have no idea).

• Second, and we talked about this when we took a ride in the car today — we’re going to enjoy studying and learning again. I’m a retired nurse, but I’m going to take a refresher course on infection control. I’m a retired biology teacher, and I want to get ahead of where my grandkids will be in the fall when they take their living environment course. I have a binocular microscope, and I’m going to study some flora and fauna. I’m going to spend some afternoons with a libretto in my hand listening to opera.

• Third, we’re going to reconnect with friends on Facebook and through emails and letters. We know the time we spend putting those notes together will be appreciated and returned.

• Fourth, we’re going to move ahead. We’ll fill out the census form and check our voter registration. I’ll throw out old white T-shirts and worn out but oh-so-comfortable sweatshirts and sandals. I will actually read the owner’s manual for my car.

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In so many ways, the shape of this worldwide coronavirus tragedy gives some of us a chance we’ve never had to slow down and take on things that we left on the sidelines long ago. In the midst of their terror, the Italians found passionate music to express their spirit.

As Upstate New Yorkers, we will do no less.

John Addyman writes the column “Addyman’s Corner,” which is published in 55 PLUS magazine (