Going the (Social) Distance

The Six-Foot Rule

The curse of loving dystopian movies is one day you might be living in one.

In 2012, a Floridian man (natch) had his face eaten off by a homeless man high on bath salts. The Walking Dead was the best show on TV, and I had caught the zombie bug. But when you hear about the undead coming back to life and attacking people for brain-based snacks, life gets serious real fast.

That’s what we’re dealing with right now, a serious life. This isn’t good because I’m not a serious person. I’m a gadfly, a goof, a gregarious buffoon. These skills have served me well as a bartender, and hopefully made me interesting as a writer for the Pill Mill, but not easily translated into self-quarantine.

My work life has been thrown into chaos since March 11. I’ve been furloughed at Keys On Main until the all clear is issued by the powers-at-large. The Pill Mill has kept me on, allowing me to continue writing my dribble until we can return back to the Home Office. Writing from home has been challenging because I feed off the excitement and noise of the First Floor. Creative types tend to be interesting people and the by-product of working around artists and writers is a lot of noise. You can’t imagine how much I miss the noise.

After a month of working from home, I’m convinced solitary confinement should be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.

So, how’s your quarantine going?

It’s not normal to remain socially isolated. And I’m probably one of the lucky ones. I have a fridge full of food, beer, and bourbon for the weekends. There’s a large yard to putz around in and guitars to be strummed. The pups, Magpie and Sunflower, are close, and I’m still married. I’m sure my wife has at least googled “divorce” once a week since mid-March.

I’ve experienced serious events, but this moment is different. COVID-19 isn’t a terrorist sleeper cell or a natural disaster. It’s nearly invisible and doesn’t discriminate. You can’t shoot it out of the sky with a shotgun or pray it away. It’s a God damn virus and programmed in its DNA to continuously spread. It breeds like a Red Sox fan or a Senator Sanders supporter. Okay, that’s not fair. Bernie Bros are a lot worse than COVID-19.

I wish I could challenge Corona Virus to a Hell in the Cell-style wrestling match or a winner-take-all pub quiz, but COVID is hellbent on wreaking havoc. It doesn’t negotiate and clearly doesn’t have a sense of irony. Jesus, just today, there was a report that a fucking tiger in the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID. I know NYC is up to its eyeballs in Corona Virus, but when tigers are getting tested, you know this is next level crazy. I blame Netflix.

S-Line at dawn.

And that’s probably why I’ve been down in the dumps since this quarantine took effect. There is very little I can do except get out of the way and stay home. Bartenders should be classified as “essential” workers, but we’re not. If ever there was time somebody needed a drink, this is it, but the CDC is keeping us on the sidelines. The sooner we start acting like a cohesive unit, like Corona Virus, the sooner we can get back to normal.

So, what have I done to keep my spirits up? I take the dogs for walks. Long walks. Walks that stretch from my home in Sugar House to the base of Mt. Grandeur. Strolls along the S-Line to State Street. Hikes up to Highland Drive and treks to Tanner Park. Because I own a violent and unpredictable pit bull, I already keep a good amount of social distance between me and other dog walkers. Magpie makes it easy to stay at a minimum of 6-feet away from people because she wants to eat your dog. Sunflower is just happy to be out of the house.

To minimize contact with others, I’ve been going on walks early in the morning. I usually leave around 6:30 in the morning and I rarely encounter folks. Of course, there are those self-righteous maniacs going for pre-dawn runs, but they’re sprinting down the middle of the road like they own this town. I always wonder who hurt these people? What are they running away from?

Abandoned tennis courts, 900 East & Sugarmont Drive

Today, me and the pups hit the S-Line. Salt Lake was asleep. It was cold with the Sun tempting to break through the clouds over Mt. Olympus. We walked north on 900 East and turned left at the Sugarmont TRAX Station. The wind was blowing and there wasn’t anybody around. I was listening to Pearl Jam (natch) and taking in the morning.

When I was a kid, I thought of following my father into the family business of medicine. He’s a rheumatologist. My mother is a registered nurse and my sister became a surgeon. I didn’t have the smarts, stomach, or studies to become a doctor. It’s remarkable the work the medical profession does under the best of circumstances. It’s close to a God damn miracle what they’re being asked to do today.

Ginger Rogers is always praised for doing everything Fred Astaire did, only doing it backwards. That’s how I feel medical professionals in hot zones are treating the critical COVID patients. Duct tape and bailing wire is no way to help those in need. Trump should be ashamed with how he’s treated this pandemic. He’s incapable of showing empathy at a time when the country is in desperate need. 10,000 people have died in the last month from COVID-19. Thousands of people have put their lives on the line to tend to the ill. And millions of us are being asked to sacrifice our freedom in the name of defeating this deadly disease. 

A steady hand steers the ship, and in times of distress, leadership is as simple as pointing in a direction and asking everyone to row in the same direction.

Nothing should be withheld from doctors in need. Governors shouldn’t be bidding against the Federal government for critical equipment. And medical experts shouldn’t have to compete for airtime against a blowhard president barely able to hold it together. Relief checks should have been cut in a week. Ventilators should have been shipped to NYC in less than a day. And a national shutdown should have been issued from Day 1. If we don’t stop COVID, it will stop us. Read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, and you’ll see Corona Virus’s blueprint for victory. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and Trump thinks there is time to fiddle.

My liberty garden for victory is staying home. I miss running into friends at a bar and heading to Olive Garden for a better-than-average Italian meal. I miss wandering the aisles of Home Depot, strolling through Harmon’s, and going to a movie. I’m not a doctor or an epidemiologist, but I have the horse sense to see that COVID will alter our lives permanently if we don’t take this virus serious. 

My walk through the neighborhood took an hour. My pack and I covered a little over 3 miles and we didn’t see a soul. For the next 8-hours, I wrote product copy for the Pill Mill, took a Webex meeting, and shared a couple of phone calls. I ate breakfast and lunch at my desk, listened to Faith No More, and thought about what the next day will hold.

If COVID-19 could be cured with a perfect Manhattan, I’d be the first to don the PPE and get into the fight.

The answer steeled me: more of the same. We’re in this for the long haul. The only way to end this nightmare is to embrace the crazy. I believe in Americans and the United States. We’re a country filled with crafty, clever, smart, dedicated and dynamic people. If COVID-19 could be cured with a perfect Manhattan, I’d be the first to don the PPE and get into the fight. But it requires research scientists, doctors, nurses, and other health care specialists to beat Corona Virus’ ass. And the second line of defense are the brave truckers, supermarket employees, and other essential individuals who are keeping us safe, fed, and moving forward.

My job and yours is to clear out and let the professionals get after it. Stay home, wash your hands, keep your cool, and be smart. We’ll get through this together, like we always have. And trust me, when this insanity is over, I’m pouring doubles and tipping triples.

One thought on “Going the (Social) Distance

  1. Bean…You are so gifted..I am so incredibly proud of you.You just amaze me,

    that I feel the same way and I am trying to to stay safe.You are just the best my number 1 son (in age) and I love you to death..well to death but you get it.Mom

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