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Lockdown at 90
It has been three weeks since the governor of our state, California, had ordered that, first oldsters like me, and then everyone, choose your phrase--- shelter in place, self-isolate, stay home.
At the same time, the whole state, including our Northern California retirement community, was pretty well shut down. I have to say that, being 90 years old, all of this had little effect on my life as I’d already cut down on my activities and did stay home most of the time. So all I had to do was rest up.
On this morning my wife Beverly was making up a shopping list of items for our local supermarket which, if we were lucky, might be delivered in a few weeks. I didn’t have anything to do myself and it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard from my friend Paul Lerner in a while. Paul was by way of being a writer. The last time we’d talked he was working on a story he called “The Meaning of Life” in which the world’s leading computer scientist, Hans Von Something, had inputted all the insights of the great thinkers, past and present, into a super-computer, pressed the “Speak” button, heard what the computer had to say, exclaimed “How simple! Why hadn’t I thought of that?” and then had died of a heart attack. That’s as far as the story had gone.
I wondered if Paul was writing anything about the pandemic that had upended all of our lives. I knew he must have some thoughts about it. I dialed his number and he picked up and said, “Hello, Martin.” We talked about the virus, what was going on in our retirement community, how we were coping with getting stuff since we were supposed to stay in our houses. I thought Paul sounded a little subdued, not his usual animated self. Then I asked if he was writing anything about it. “No,” he said. “That’s the trouble. You know, before all of this happened, I told you I was having a hard time writing about what was going on in the country. Things had gotten so bizarre, with the Russian investigation, the impeachment Trump, Pelosi, Adam Schiff, it was almost impossible to imagine anything weirder. Now we have this pandemic. You know I like to make fun of things. This is no laughing matter. People are dying all over the world. The whole country is shut down. We’re confined to our homes. I’m stuck.”
“Hmm,” I said. “I see what you mean. Wait a minute, why don’t you write a kind of a diary about what’s going on? You can comment on those briefings Trump is having, people hoarding toilet paper, you know, all of those things.”
There was silence on the line, then Paul said, “Martin, that’s a brilliant idea. It’ll be a journal, like Daniel DeFoe’s ‘Journal of the Plague Year’.”
“Never mind. I’m a writer so I keep a kind of journal. I’ll go back and look it over and start with the beginning of the year, when nobody knew what was coming. I don’t suppose you keep a journal, do you?”
“A journal? No, I …”
“That’s okay. Start keeping one now.”
“So I can incorporate your reactions to the virus; how if seems to a really old guy. You’re ninety now, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but …”
“Good. Start right away. I’m going to look at my journal notes now. Great idea we had, Martin. I’ll call you next week.”
“But …” The line went dead. What had I had gotten myself into? That damned virus, stuck in our house and now this. I’d have to see if Beverly could add whiskey to our shopping list.
© Martin Green April 13th 2020
mgreensuncity at yahoo.com
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