My Plague Chronicles: The Unbearable Sameness Of Boring


One of the most annoying issues we all faced when we went into hibernation for the proposed “three weeks” more than two month ago was what were we to do? Some of us could work from home, others had children to try to teach, while some of us older people might spend time philosophizing about life. Right!

“Having lived through a plague, I now understand why Renaissance paintings are filled with naked fat people stretched out on couches.”

Unfortunately, I did not write it, but it expresses my feelings. Almost everything we normally have to help us pass time was taken away. I lost access to my community’s swimming pool, which I used almost every day for over an hour. I lost access to the community’s gym which I (occasionally) used to try to be in decent shape.

Walking was discouraged since we were warned that we couldn’t get too close to people who were also walking even if they were friends we knew for decades. And we had “karens” — people who felt they had to make a fuss if we deviated even a millimeter from accepted norms. When my beloved dog Lexi ran up to a friend’s equally beloved dog, one of those censorious people walked by yelling about social distancing. Since my friend and I were at least 10 feet apart, I guess she meant the dogs. Perhaps someone can explain to me how you explain COVID-19 and social distancing to a dog. So not only were we locked in at home, we also lost a lot of our healthy activities in the name of staying healthy.

Adding to the possible boredom, the movie theaters closed down. I hated that, being a devoted fan, but I understood and supported the idea. People can get very close there. But the library also closed. So there went my supply of books. Happily, I have a lot of books at home. (I am happy about that; my wife not so much). I also have hundreds on my Kindle. I have read an awful lot of books in the past few months.

And that leads us to television. I will now say other words I thought would never pass my lips: Thank you, Comcast. They provide our cable, and some of the selections have been great. For a while, they actually provided “The Great Courses,” very interesting college-level courses on a variety of subjects, for free. Their 24-part course on the Black Plague was fascinating, although I had to watch it when my wife was not around since it gave her nightmares. It helped, however, to give me a sense of perspective. That plague wiped out over a quarter of the population of Europe. Our virus is a puppy compared to it.

A real problem with television, of course, is that the major networks are giving up. They were hit hard by having their seasons end early, and new shows will be late coming in the fall. Considering the poor quality of some of the current shows, and the even worse prospects for next year, we will be looking for a lot of alternatives.

And there are alternatives. Some of the original series on the major pay networks are quite good. Of course, others are not as good. However, comparing them to the networks is like comparing Tiffany’s to the Dollar Store, and the networks are declining.

Some of the alternatives like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, however, got me through most of these times. While there is a lot presented by the first two that does not interest me at all, there is plenty that is worthwhile. There is a kind of quality in numbers. If they present 100 new items and you only like a handful, it can carry you through.

Ironically, Disney+ was a nice bonus. We got it for the grandkids, and now they can’t come over. But I managed first to go through the whole nine-movie cycle of Star Wars. (I did it in their order to see if it made more sense. It didn’t, but it was still fun.) And I am almost done with the whole Marvel universe.

So, I have spent way more time on the couch than I did years ago, although my pool is now open, and I am there a couple of hours a day. So, I guess I made it through. And kept what little is left of my sanity.