so here’s a little something I just realized…and I’m not sure why it took this long, honestly.
I am SUPREMELY QUALIFIED for this Shelter-In-Place dance.
I’m the least easily-bored person you have ever, or will ever meet. I have tons of outlets…I can be blissfully happy doing next to nothing. I can write, I can record in my home, I can watch the same documentaries over and over, I can listen to music, I can pick up the phone and call people – if I didn’t have to buy groceries on occasion, I could be perfectly content right here in this house for the rest of the year.
I have some musical projects that require varying degrees of collaboration, and it’s frustrating and disappointing that those are shelved for the time-being, but I’m also aware that a lot of people have it much worse than I do, and I try to keep that in perspective. Having outlets definitely helps.
But still, something about this has been wearing on me, and I think it just dawned on me.
Those of you who know me know that I don’t own a gun, I’ve never owned a gun, and I don’t understand the whole Viagra-like effect that owning guns has on some people.
I put guns in a box with a lot of other things – which is to say that my attitude towards them is that “if that’s your thing, that’s fine, as long as your thing doesn’t interfere with my thing“.
For me, that applies to motorcycles, smoking, XBOX and video games in general, that friggin’ British Baking Show (“you have thirty minutes to make a desert out of ramen noodles, this can of spackling compound, vanilla extract and some Odor Eaters, and it had better be delicious…” – yeah, miss me with that garbage.) – and I’ve always lumped guns into that box as well, although the degree to which guns seem to affect folks who don’t own them is HIGHLY debatable when the child you put on the school bus doesn’t come home again, ever.
I don’t own a gun for a very simple reason.
I refuse to live my life in fear.
I’m not gonna ever let myself become such a prisoner in society that I won’t go to the grocery store without packing heat. I just won’t do it. If I’m that scared of some imaginary threat that I can’t go buy food without worrying about The Enemy, then I’ve become paralyzed, and I just ain’t having that. If I happen to be standing in line at the checkout when some dude comes in and starts shooting, it’s gonna be chaos anyway, and if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.
I’ve managed to exist for half a century on this planet in a manner as to be free of that particular brand of paranoia, and my life has been immensely richer for it.
But NOW, though…
This goddamned virus has turned me into the very thing I’ve avoided becoming for my entire life.
Everyone is a suspect, everyone is a possible carrier, and every single person I encounter poses a potential threat. I look at people stumbling through the supermarket without a mask on and acting as if everything is hunkey-dorey and I occasionally indulge the fantasy of picking up a can of something and smacking them upside the head.
And while the assault fantasy is my own, this is the new normal now. We’re expected to think of everyone we encounter as a possible carrier, we’re expected to look at others with a blanket sense of mistrust, we’re expected to see every fellow human as infected until proven healthy.
And so I find myself succumbing to that same family of paranoia that I’ve found so distasteful all my life.
I’ve become the COVID-19 version of the dude who can’t go to Kroger without his 9MM on his belt.
And I hate it. I hate that this period of history has turned me into That Guy.
I talk to everybody – I’ve always tried to offer up some form of conversational anecdotes in lieu of a curt “hello” in social situations. I have a fond memory of going to Wegmans’ with an old girlfriend once and encountering a guy who was reading the back of a box containing gluten-free brownie mix and she gave him a glowing review of the brownies…at which time the guy said, “well…thanks so much for that unsolicited review“.
(Possibly the most suburban Philly thing anyone ever said in my presence, and it has lived on in countless retellings since.)
But now, I can’t be that guy anymore.
Whether I like it or not, I have to view the world through the same paranoid lens of the guy expecting to encounter some vague terrorist if he leaves the house to walk his dog, and that’s just not me.
But COVID demands that I become that guy as a means of survival.
And I think THAT’S the thing that’s been wearing on me the most amidst this mess.
I’m OK, friends.
I’m lucky, in some respects. I mean, we’ve gone from a three income household to a one income household, and we have the same struggles that other families do.
But I’m hoping this crippling fear subsides on the other side.