Trying to cope with social distancing

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So how’s your pandemic going?

I wish that were an April Fool’s joke, but that’s generally what my friends ask me on the infrequent times that somebody hits up my cell to see if I’m still vertical.

I appreciate anyone taking the time to check in, even though I realize that in all likelihood they aren’t that concerned about my condition. It’s more likely they are calling because they are bored to tears and know I always have plenty to say, even if I have nothing on my mind.

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Callers are merely killing time and hoping this evil virus doesn’t kill them. These casual conversations eventually touch on how long this thing will last. Of course we all have our opinions. The President thinks it will be over in a few days or week, though he backed off that Sunday afternoon, extending the rules for social distancing and the like for 30 more days.

The scientific experts chained to the floor behind him in the press briefings try to be diplomatic and say things like, “We don’t have enough data yet,” or “The virus will determine when it’s done killing us, humans won’t.”

So we live in a time of uncertainty and worry and fear. If you’re somewhat old like me, you heard stories from your parents about how they survived World War II, or maybe you heard those from your grandparents. In the 1940s, those good people were fighting for their lives. Today, we’re just struggling to stay alive. We think it couldn’t get any worse, but of course it could.

It’s about the instant the cold water hits my face first thing in the morning that the realization sets in that this is not just another day, and probably won’t be for another two months, at least. I remind myself that this is yet one more day I shouldn’t leave the house or interact with any other humans that don’t bear my last name. I’m thankful that I really care for the other three in my family. It would be miserable to be holed up all this time with a couple of jerks.

I went through that in grad school, when for a low-rent price I chose to cohabit with two guys I’d never met before. They had an apartment close to the college I was attending, and they needed a third roommate, so I impulsively signed a six-month lease. We do things like that when we’re young and broke. We figure, How bad could they be?

Jeffrey Dahmer and the Unabomber would have been better company. After two months of hating everything about them and was on the verge of hating all mankind, I bailed on the lease and told them to sue me. They were both as broke as I was, so I knew they couldn’t afford an attorney. My bigger concern was that they’d conspire to kill me and that the Dahmerish one would store my head in his refrigerator.

I think about times like that whenever I start feeling down about our present predicament.

Because I haven’t had a real 9-to-5 job in over 30 years, I know I have far less stress on my life than so many in Las Vegas that have been laid off from honest-to-God occupations. I really feel for those folk, pray they’ll endure through this miserable period by spending quality time with their loved ones, and keep faith they will survive until this bat-originated airborne virus fades away.

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Because there may be no Masters golf tournament this year, no Final Four, and abbreviated NBA and Major League Baseball schedules, like many of our brethren, I’m watching far more boob tube than is healthy. I watch some news each day, until my spirits start to sink like the stock market. I then I go to cable streaming the latest rave series.

I watched all seven episodes of the documentary Tiger King in one sitting, and realized that with the characters portrayed, civilization is close to becoming extinct even without the current plague.

The only remotely relatable characters in that show were the tigers, who were loving and sweet if treated right, but vengeful when they weren’t, which was frequently.

I washed my hands after every episode, not because the experts tell us to, but because I felt grimy watching the behavior of people who claim to be animals’ best friends. When my wife changed the channel to the Kardashians, for the first time ever I didn’t complain. Strange days indeed.

About the Author

Jack Sheehan

Vegas Vibe columnist Jack Sheehan has lived in Las Vegas since 1976 and writes about the city for Gaming Today. He is the author of 28 books, over 1,000 magazine articles, and has sold four screenplays.

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