Plague Diary: March 17, 2020


Happy St. Patrick’s Day, a top five worst holiday for any of us that may still suffer psychic scars from being pinched as children for inadequate green by sauced-up elderly relatives of apocryphal Irish heritage . The best news about COVID-19 is that we’re not supposed to touch anyone–and any elderly folks out there that remind me of my madras-panted tormentors of my youth should DEFINITELY not be pinching anyone. Even/especially if they are running for president.

Yes, I’m talking to you, Joe Biden.

The worst news about COVID-19 is pretty much everything else. I cried for a few hours last night and within five minutes of waking up, felt like I was unable to breathe (panic, not virus). I don’t handle things well first thing in the morning and I’ve got to break the habit of reading the NYT while still under the blankets. (I had some coffee. I’m fine, or at least more fine, now). Especially that article about how we might be stuck solo at home for 18 months or until they get a vaccine, or until enough people starve from being unemployed that the vaccine becomes unnecessary or whatever.

That’s basically the sort of thing that makes me want to start smoking again (don’t worry, I won’t). Remember the infected people in the Black Plague that used have crazy dances until they dropped dead? I get the impulse. I know we’re all there. Is it better that we’re all there, or worse? And how worried should I be about all the wingnuts out there buying guns? Are they going to come loot me for toilet paper? (Full disclosure: I don’t have enough to justify heavy artillery)

Speaking of toilet paper, I wonder what’s going on with all the TP in the colleges and universities? Is it just sitting there during this crisis? Back when I was an undergrad, dormitories and classroom buildings were a well-documented source of paper products for those of us that lived off campus. I remember I once went to a party at an affluent private university and was handed a trash bag by a not-exactly-school-spirited student and told to have at it in a series of campus bathrooms. I don’t think I had to buy any for a year (sorry, not sorry, Duke).

As regards the holiday, I have some Guinness for later, and I plan on reading passages from Flann O’Brien’s At Swim, Two Birds (one of the all-time greats) aloud to my cat. I may attempt to do so in dialect. None of you will be around to hear it, so you’ll have to imagine and cringe with Walter.

Picture is of me by the Liffey, in Dublin, back in 2015, on the way to dinner at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, The Winding Stair (also a bookshop) just across the river. If they’re still around when this thing subsides, we should go. You’ll love it

As of this writing, 80,237 people have recovered from COVID-19

The Author

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