In the Meantime



There's only so much MSNBC you can watch. Ditto Columbo re-runs. Ditto Jack Vale fart pranks. Ditto whatever made-for-TV series you’ve made up your mind to binge on, given some spare time. (And now you’ve got it; that’s for sure.) Remember, you’re not “rationing” your time. How can you, when you don’t have any idea how long it is? You can only do one-half of Thomas Hobbes’ famous advice: “Be not solitary; be not idle.” As for the latter part of that, sorry, the gym is out. Or would be, even if such establishments were not, by and large, shuttered indefinitely. Which means, among other things, no sauna cure for the drizzly chill weather of early spring. Books? Well, that’s what the unread stuff in your library is for. But watch out for eye-strain.

One is forced to remember the once pervasive California F-Scale psychological test and one particularly infamous set of multiple choices, in which young test-takers in the ‘50s and '60s were invited to choose between such personal-preference options as “clean up my room” or “visit a sick friend” or “become sexually excited.” A trap question, of course. Avoidance of the last choice — the obvious “right” answer — stamped one as not only repressed but subject to manipulation by controlling external forces.

Start scrubbing. These days cleaning up the room is becoming the only viable option, with the other two choices all too possibly conflating into the same threatening outcome.

There are alternatives to cabin fever, and one of them is, if you’re a driver, the occasional solitary auto trip necessary to get groceries and medicine. There’s not much that can happen to you inside the cab on your own vehicle, so long as it is kept properly fueled and driven safely, and you can turn such a utilitarian mission into some version of a pleasure drive, something like the ones you used to take when you started driving..

Food: Insofar as your funds can, with some degree of cost-accounting good sense, permit it, make an occasional visit to the pick-up counter or the drive-through lane of this or that favorite restaurant. Many of them are working hard to try to stay open, and you want to give them a fighting chance. There’s no telling how long this emergency will last, and the dirty little secret is that not all of the small businesses we’re used to (or the big ones or the chain franchises, for that matter) will survive. Not without some help from their friends.

One of the silver linings of this crisis is that government — or governments, plural, all of them, large and small — have, in a variety of new ways, been forced to act directly on behalf of their constituents, and some of this — hopefully, much of this — will stick to the new normal once a workable Gestalt is finally arranged. And, apropos that, don’t forget there’s an election going on. Use it.

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