“Covidia II” © Michael Thompson
Random Notes on Lockdown Life
“I cross the street when I see him/her coming” used to be said about people one didn’t like. Nowadays, people — the majority masked — cross the street when anyone is coming.
Citizens are ordered or requested to wear face masks in public, so now at 6 AM on an empty suburban street, a dog walker wears a
mask with no one anywhere around… and a car drives by, windows shut, the lone driver masked — for or against whom?
Youth, who were trending virtual well before the pandemic — addicted to their phones, tablets, ’puters, X-boxes, etc. — are now
told to go even more virtual: school is online, sports meets banned or discouraged, face-to-face casual encounters and social negotiations impracticable if not verboten… and kids, already accustomed to the isolation of screen life, like it like that. They feel awkward in public.
“When will the canteen be over?” asks a mentally-challenged group-home resident. He means the quarantine — but no one can
truthfully answer him.*
Outside the credit union or bank, a masked vetter asks you tostate your business before you’re allowed in, one at a time, to do it. At the supermart or superstore portals, a deadpan greeter checks to see if your mask is on before you’re admitted to part with your money. Even buying seems a privilege now — and if items are currently out of stock or prices have suddenly risen, hey, that’s tough. Just be thankful that the groceries are still being delivered and that you still have the wherewithal to buy them!
Even sheeple (as in We, the sheeple) begin to mistrust their nominal leader’s feelgood “wishful thinking” briefings, like “We’ve got it under control and it’ll all be back to normal soon” (shades of Herbert Hoover’s early-1930s assurances that prosperity was just around the corner). Even the nemesis of POTUS, the little big Infection Expert Dr. F, had to admit he lied to the public early on, saying it was okay not to wear a mask because he wanted the small stocks of masks to be available for front-line caregivers. Whom can you trust? And recent studies, mostly ignored by the mainstream media, indicate masks are not effective in preventing the spread of the virus, and millions of discarded masks are becoming a world-wide pollution problem. Meanwhile the pyramid-scheme economy is collapsing and hey, let’s blame China for the whole mess, or maybe invade Venezuela as a distraction. What the heck. Aren’t we the greatest nation anyway? Or weren’t we? Don’t tell me we’re an ugly empire about to bite the dust. I might go ballistic. No! It’s China, it’s the virus, it’s anyone but US!
Jon Horn’s writing has appeared in the New York Times Sunday Travel Section, Honeysuckle, Redbook, Gallery, Crawdaddy, the New Olympia Reader, and even more obscure venues.
Michael Thompson is an artist living in Chicago. He has spent the pandemic isolated in his home studio working on collage, memory jugs and fake postage stamps.