I’m certain the COVID-19 disruption of American society and economics will be studied for decades to examine how well we came together (or didn’t) to meet this extraordinary situation.
In addition to disrupting the day-to-day routine of everyone in the house by having them shelter in place, the pandemic has emotionally exhausted us all, as we are buffeted by stock market declines, closings of all kinds and the strong feeling that there is no one in the White House who has even a clue about how to get us through all this.
Normally, I’d breeze right through March, oblivious to the end-of-times outside my door by watching the NCAA basketball tournament. I half think Roy Williams imported COVID-19 from Wuhan so that nobody would notice the Tar Heels wouldn’t get a nod from either the NCAA or the NIT this year.
No one knows how long all this will last (or how smart people will be about following the rules that help mitigate the situation.) But as it drags on, here are newly emerging medical/mental conditions attendant on this singular shelter in place.
Netflixanity: This is that moment when you realize you have now clicked on every movie or series promo on Netflix, and cannot find anything worth watching. There are only a handful of things to watch in the best of times, but it is a traumatic shock to your system when you realize Netflix inventory isn’t limitless. I might recommend rewatching the early HBO stuff again like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Deadwood” — if only because they can kill a lot of time and remind you how good TV could have been.
Conversacitis: You know this has invaded your home when, after spending 24/7 with your significant other day in and day out, she contends that you never talk to her about anything important -- like why you aren’t more freaked out by the pandemic.
Telling her that you in fact are perpetually 30 seconds away from bursting into tears over your 401k and layoffs in your industry doesn’t count. You have to actually cry. Anything else, and you are in denial. That it would scare the daylights out of the kids somehow does not get factored in.
Toilet Paper Syndrome. A text celebrating “I FOUND TP” would be bizarre under any other circumstance, but now has to be acknowledged as divine intervention into someone’s life and probably a sign that the world has not been abandoned by all Higher Powers. When TP starts to trade higher than bitcoin or oil futures, it’s not proof of preordination -- rather, it's that mankind is inherently evil and will be called to account (soon, if this is The Big One).
Chickenitus: If yousubscribe to the New York Times Cooking newsletter, you already know that chicken can be cooked about 75,000 different ways. The problem is that in every recipe, it still tastes like chicken. And since the hoarders beat you to the store again today, you are stuck with breasts, which no one likes except anorexic ladies-who-lunch and weight-lifters. Serving French fries stead of niblet corn is a nice try, but don’t expect any emotional support until spaghetti and meatballs moves back to the top of the menu.
Monopoly Syndrome: After a while, all moms get tired of watching TV -- or finally realize that under the current circumstances, they are sixth on the list to get control of the remote. This leads them to the inevitable conclusion that it would be fun and family-like to play board games.
Even kids at the low end of the spectrum can spot the signs and start to yawn and talk about bedtime as Mom goes in search of games that have not been played in 20 years or so, such as Risk, Monopoly and Scrabble. Pretend, pretend, pretend; it is only one night out of your life.
Bookology: If your parents have decided to use this time to start teaching you musical instruments orgroup-read “War and Peace,” you might consider running outside and asking the driver if you can lick the support pole on the city bus. Yes, you will get the virus, but it will freak out your parents enough to cease and desist with the home schooling and put you back in front of at least a phone screen. Hellooooo, sexting.