A New Year’s resolution I’m making three and a half months late: to be careful what I wish for.
As I stated in a recent Let’s Talk tribute to Phyllis Brandon, the late High Profile editor emeritus, the society reporter-photographer aspect of my job has afforded me a valuable education on philanthropy in Arkansas — as well as priceless relational capital.
But during the busiest parts of the Central Arkansas social calendar, I get pretty worn out from all the going, going, going. And there have been times I’ve wished I had nothing to do except curl up at home and binge-watch something on Hulu. Or binge-sleep.
I did not expect to have that wish granted via a pandemic named covid-19, aka coronavirus. One that has caused life, not just parties, balls, soirees and receptions, to come grinding to a halt.
It didn’t take long at all for us to get from “Oh no, those poor people in China/Italy/Iran” to “Oh, no, those poor people in Washington” to “Oh, dear Lord. It’s right here in our backyard.”
Arkansas was fairly late to the coronavirus table but quickly began to play catch-up as the number of cases in the state rose almost with each passing day. And, as those cases rose, planned events fell. Just about everything we thought we were going to cover for High Profile — balls, galas, soirees, receptions, luncheons, fashion shows and the like, all of which we refer to simply as “parties” for brevity — has been canceled or postponed at the time this column went to press. To play on that short-story title The Man Without a Country, I’m The Woman Without a Party.
Also, it took Coronavirus to arouse a bit of gratefulness among those of us who are too broke to travel. Tourist spots all over the globe look like scenes straight out of Life After People, that 2009-2010 History Channel series that showed what would happen to architecture, flora and fauna on Earth if all the people suddenly disappeared. In Little Rock, as of last Monday, a midnight-5 a.m curfew was imposed. In new guidelines, President Trump recommended avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people; he also urged Americans to avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants. Sobering stuff. But then the empty store racks and sold-out bathroom tissue resulting from covid-19-related panic had already been quite the jolt.
At least Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg haven’t shown up. As those of a certain age and penchant for science fiction may recall, these characters are from Stephen King’s book-turned-TV-miniseries The Stand, about a plague that wipes out most everybody and two supernatural figures — one good, one evil — who arise to lead the few folks left. And yes, King was actually on Twitter recently, assuring fans that covid-19 is nowhere near as bad as the Project Blue pandemic that was a figment of his fertile imagination. (There’s a new version of The Stand in production, due to be shown on CBS All Access, by the way.)
That’s the fake good news in all this. The actual good news: There is some good that can emerge when the layers of normalcy are peeled back. I loved seeing the online posts of the people, confined to their buildings in the Italian tourist town deserted due to the virus, lean out their windows and sing together.
I had to chuckle at other social-media images of the creative things that cloistered people have been doing to battle boredom and sports withdrawal … the man who created his own indoor sport of curling. The woman who turned her cleaning routine into a combination gunslinging routine (with a spray cleaner bottle) and dance routine. The dude acting out a school graduation ceremony by sitting, cap-and-gown clad, in front of his computer, snacking. The guys in Italy leaning out their windows to play ping pong. And the humorous memes on social media, especially those that incorporate the now-oh-so-precious bathroom tissue, are priceless.
Yes, it’s OK to show some humor in the midst of scariness and sadness as this pandemic hits us on the physical and financial levels, clouding our near future as health officials scramble to get on top of this thing. It’s even better if we heed the suggestions and admonitions we’ve heard from multiple sources: Use this time of “social distancing” to get closer to each other through old-fashioned conversation and family bonding. Donate to charities that are trying to stand in the gap for those who have limited, or have lost, access to food and other necessary resources. Check on senior citizens and others who may need a helping hand, helping arms and helping legs. Put aside our differences, quit fighting over the Charmin and go about that business of being, as the late former President George H.W. Bush put it, a kinder, gentler nation.
‘Cause hey, what else ya gonna do right now?
Open the window and sing. Or just email:
Style on 03/22/2020
- The Year the Internet Thought I Was MacKenzie Bezos – WIRED
- Easy ways to get the fastest internet connection possible in your home – Komando
- Elon Musk says Starlink internet private beta to begin in roughly three months, public beta in six – TechCrunch
- Verizon is canceling home internet installations during the pandemic – The Verge
- Ethiopia’s internet shutdowns are disrupting millions of lives – Quartz Africa
- How to check if your service provider is throttling your internet – CNET
- 8 charts on internet use around the world as countries grapple with COVID-19 – Pew Research Center
- How to boost your home internet speeds while you’re stuck at home: Tech Support – Yahoo Money
- Welcome (Back) to the Appointment Internet – New York Magazine