Column - Commentary
A Time of Home (Not So) AloneBy DAVE KIFFER
March 07, 2021
A year ago, at this time, we were just starting to talk about something called a "Corona" virus and people were already calling it the "beer " virus as if the effects were no worse than being forced to sit in the sun and drink watered down "resort" brewskis.
Yes, people were already starting to get sick, but it seems like every year there is something going around that makes people sick and well, since this was the 19th COVID (hence the name COVID 19) and the previous 18 had not wiped us out, well heckfire, what was the big honking deal? We lived through swine flu, we lived through avian flu, we lived through penguin flu.
What? You missed penguin flu?
The CDC (Center for DancingPenguin Control) defines penguin flu as the rapid concentration of penguin memes in the WiFi around us until it is virtually impossible to breath or go online without contracting the intense desire to "flu (sic) the coop" to the one place there are no "penguin memes." Antartica.
In Antarctica (which has no ants as a far I can tell) they have a different problem. Walrus memes.
But I digress.
Heck, we even lived through EBOLA which is a pretty horrible sounding thing until you reverse the letters and it becomes ALOBE (uh - lo - bay) . Which I'm pretty sure is the name of a lovely new "sleep aid" medication that "can cause drowsiness."
Speaking of which, I would hope it would cause drowsiness, right? As opposed to all those other side effects (expanding earlobes, excessive flatulence, sudden death) that every medication commercial is now required to note.
Sorry, I digress. Again.
Clearly, that attitude - that this was no big deal - was the wrong "tone" to take because it offended COVID 19 - which has been led to believe by its parents, COVID 17 and COVID 18, that it is especially exceptional and will accomplish great things - so much that it reared up and shut down our economy and changed just about every facet of our daily lives.
It made us don masks, and social distance. Even worse, it created a whole new reality, the ZoomTopia, the most horrible place imaginable. A world where everyone is in a box and must keep the same expression on their face for hours on end as other inhabitants of the "ZTop" drone on and on, because they know you can't leave and you can't even change your expression.
We were kinda heading that way anyway.
Remember all those cloying commercials back in the good old days, 2019, in which Granny is in her home alone and the only thing that brightens her day up is the "the fam" - already socially distancing without calling it that - popping up on the little screen that they have given her so they can "face time."
Oddly enough, you don't see the part where Granny scrambles to "put on her face " before answering the phone. Something that all "women of a certain age" used to do before allowing anyone or anything to see them.
Anyway, you see Granny's smile, the sentimental music swells, and you puddle up because the modern world has created such a beautiful thing.
Well, Zoom, or Teams or Oxenyoke or whatever it is called, is not THAT beautiful thing. It is 25 little boxes on each screen with 25 horrified little faces all screaming "let me out" and "kill me" at the same time. Kind of like the mutant fly at the end of "The Fly."
And that is what Home (not quite) Alone amounts to in these Quarantimes.
Moving along, time has passed since the days BC (Before COVID). In the form of 12 months and 361 Zoom Calls. I am required - as a teacher - to ask "well, boys and girls what have we learned" in the past year?
Some people have learned that their houses are too small.
A size that was okay when one or both of a couple are spending many hours away at work is not quite so spacious when one or both of a couple is "working from home."
That spare bedroom that is a great office "space" when only one person is using it, is not so good when you are sharing it with someone else. Gosh forbid you only have one TV or one "workstation." Impossible (the French pronunciation "em - po - see - blay" works well here). Even more so, if you don't have room walls thick enough block out the sound of someone binge watching "The Walking Dead" while you are watching "The Zooming Dead" down the hall.
I know that some people have cleverly turned a spare bedroom into a dual workspace with two desks and two computers. It doesn't help.
It's one thing to have two desks on opposite sides of the room, but it's really hard to get anything done when the other person is on a Zoom call or god forbid, simply TYPING TOO LOUDLY.
Yes, that is a thing. It's called misophonia. I would have thought it was called Smithcoronaphobia, but it is broader than just typing. Some folks are just set off by certain sounds. The so-called "trigger sounds" of misophonia.
Maybe you're not bothered by the sound of typing. But I bet you have had the experience of living with at least one other person who is bothered by the sound of your chewing. It is the most common manifestation of "misophonia."
No matter how quietly you try to chew - and keep your mouth really really really shut - the other person across the table finds themselves just as irritated as if you were masticating your meat with a jackhammer.
And it can get even worse.
One of my old friends recently noted that he was clearly doing something that was completely irritating his spouse, making it hard for them to enjoy their COVID time together. He couldn't quite figure out what the problem was. She just waved her hand and sighed.
But I immediately knew what it was. She wanted him to "stop breathing."
And it wasn't "Stop breathing so loud" it was "stop breathing" at all.
And that is what we have learned in the past year. COVID has given us a little hint of what a living hell RETIREMENT will be like.
We have met the enemy.
And he/she/we is us.
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Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Kiffer is a freelance
writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.