Quarantine: Day 13.
I haven’t left the house for nearly two weeks; the doctor assured I won’t be cleared for takeoff any time soon. Instead, like many who are considered “high risk” for exposure to the COVID-19 virus, it’s likely that I’ll remain housebound for a while.
For most of week one, the weather outside was frightful. I spent far too much time on the internet scanning news of the pandemic, simultaneously stumbling upon cartoons, funny photos and all sorts of humor-based commentary regarding the health crisis and its effect on the wild, wild west known as the internet. “Well that’s not funny,” I thought to myself but chose to not comment, even though reprimanding others is a favorite pastime of mine.
“Why are people mocking this issue?” I asked the dog, who ignored me as usual, gnawing on a bone. “Is it just me?” As the days passed and I sought distraction elsewhere, I began to understand why some folks were exploring the lighter side of the news. “There’s only so much gloom and doom one can handle,” I thought. “You know what they say… Laughter is the best medicine. Maybe I should give it a shot.”
My first mistake was assuming (uh oh) that literally everyone I knew was familiar with the term “first world problem” which is Wikipedia-defined as a “relatively trivial minor problem or frustration, implying a contrast with [far more] serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world.”
Having decided to join in on the “fun,” I made a simple graphic image, took a photo to go with and posted my highly amusing first-world problem of the day. “To the friend who dropped these off as an act of kindness,” I wrote on my Facebook page, “thanks for the cheap tissues which either A- pop up three at a time or B- not at all, making it a horrible inconvenience to grasp just one. All you gave me was a headache.” I continued, tongue-in-cheek, “and they are far too thick and luxurious. What? It’s a problem!” I wrote in conclusion. I sat back awaiting kudos for my cleverness.
“Be grateful,” a pal posted in response, clearly missing the satirical slant. Someone else rambled on about zip lock bags and yet another chided me for “being mean.”
“Well, you know what they say,” I wrote in response. “If you have to explain a joke, it’s just not that funny. Message received.” I responded curtly and moved on to another topic.
“Send me photos of how you’re handling being stuck in the house with your loved ones,” I implored online. “Attach a quote to go with the pics. Make it funny! We can all use a laugh, right?” The Schleifer family have a country house here in the Catskills but were all crammed together in their Brooklyn home, including a visitor from England, now trapped in the USA. I suggested they create a “Brady Bunch” type image reflecting their situation and attach something humorous for possible inclusion in my column.
“Self-distancers [sic] in training,” wrote Jamee Schleiffer describing their somewhat amusing photo-grid. And [nephew] Lee attached a quote written by 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
“Well, that’s not funny,” I grumbled at the dog, who had moved on to shredding the aforementioned tissues. “Stop that!” I yelped. I’m gonna need those!”
Pals Karen and Phil were more on the money and “had fun” with my suggestion that they pose American Gothic style, which they did, but I wasn’t sure that people would get the somewhat esoteric reference to Grant Wood’s classic painting created in 1930.
“Oy, I don’t want to have to explain this either,” I moaned, tossing another bone to Dharma, which distracted her long enough for me to grab the remaining unfunny tissues from her jaws. “Back to the drawing board.”
A self-help 30-second video of a Spanish-speaking woman demonstrating how to turn men’s boxer-briefs into a DIY homemade “mascarilla” (surgical mask) caught my attention online. “Hmm,” I mused. “Helpful and funny. I think I’ll give it a shot.” I watched the video repeatedly, stretching my underwear over my head, confounded as to what I was not grasping from the all-too-brief demo. After multiple failures, I gave in to the absurdity and took a selfie, posting both the video and my attempt to recreate the mascarilla “on the Facebook,” as my mother would say.
“Luke, I am your father,” TRR’s Cass Collins commented, clearly amused by my attempt. “You look like a bank robber,” Te D’agostino chimed in before gal pal Joanna Gass attached a photo of her own to the merriment. “It’s not my best look,” she wrote of her far more successful but equally hilarious photo. “And no asking why I own men’s underwear,” she added. Now, that’s funny.
This just got interesting!