Well, this. Write. Writing is something a person can do while isolating themselves from infectious people. Isolating myself from sick people didn’t work out so well for me because I came down with COVID anyway. Didn’t some super hero use a shield of invisibility or invincibility to protect themselves from the bad guys? That’s what we really need but that is also what we really don’t have. I had a few symptoms, got tested, and received the unwelcome “positive” result. So now I can write while I isolate myself from making other people sick. Physically sick, I mean. If I make you philosophically sick or mentally sick, there’s not much I can do about that.
Just like Dante’s nine circles of hell, there are nine circles of cabin fever. They correlate amazingly. Just as there is a way to escape The Inferno, there is a way to escape cabin fever, depending upon your level of desperation. But that is for another column, when I am desperate enough to write it.
Level one: Limbo. Well isn’t that the very word for it? Limbo. Here we sit, some of us sick, some of us well, some of us recovering, and some of us still denying it’s real. Until this thing goes away or is conquered we’re all in limbo. We stay within our social circles and wear masks and try to think of a return to normalcy. This would be much easier if it were a reasonably pleasant season. Even the most hearty soul is going to balk at much outside activity when it’s twenty degrees.
Level two: Lust. The good news is, it’s (usually) an activity conducted indoors with a limited number of people involved. Bad news is, it’s still lust.
Level three: Gluttony. Oh yes. Everyone who has packed on the pounds from sedentary living, boredom, and nothing much to do but cook raise your chubby little arm and wave those wattles. Eating is easier. Exercising is harder. It’s going to be an ugly bathing suit season in 2021.
Level four: Greed. All those shelf-strippers who hoarded toilet paper and hand sanitizer better hope there is no such thing as karma. These are the people who got an Unsatisfactory in kindergarten in “Shares well with others.” Now, through no fault of their own, stores are out of the oddest things. Bran cereal (really bad news for the above sedentary people), flavored gelatin (there’s a shortage of cow hooves?), and for the longest time, pork butts. Not the rest of the pig, just the butts. This says less about supply and demand than it says about porcine anatomy.
Level five: Anger. Oh, we’re mad all right. We’re mad it happened. We’re mad it got here. We’re mad no one listened to the public health experts until it was much too late. We’re mad about the lack of leadership. We’re mad this whole mess was politicized. We’re mad some young, healthy, legislators with no high-risk factors are jumping the line for a vaccine. We’re mad former Ohio director of public health Amy Acton who was doing a fabulous job resigned because the deniers were threatening her and her family. We’re mad about a lot of things. But we’re also grateful for those who tried their best to keep us safe and for those who every day show up to work amid the carnage. They’re saints.
Level six: Heresy. The definition of heresy is “An opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted.” Synonyms are dissension/dissent/nonconformity. Plenty of that everywhere. We have doubters and believers, those who are compliant in isolation and those that aren’t, people for whom a mask has become an absolute accessory and those who insist it is their right not to wear one. (Please read “Welcome to the Freedom Café.”)
Level seven: Violence. A virus that has killed over 408,000 and infected over 21 million in the United States alone is enough violence for anyone. By comparison, 116,516 US citizens were killed in World War I; 40,000 killed in Korea; and 57,000 in Vietnam. Each tragedy doesn’t become more acceptable by these illustrations. It compounds them.
Level eight: Fraud. Unfortunately and predictably, there are vultures who take advantage of crises for their own gain. I’m trying to think up a punishment harsh enough for them. How about solitary confinement in a cold stone prison with piped-in music of that guy who plays the pan flute? That ought to do it.
Level nine: Treachery. The virus, of course, is mutating. That’s its job. Our job, as I see it, is to do what we can to remain healthy and smart and safe and reduce the burden on a health care system that is teetering on the edge, and health care workers who are right there beside it. If you don’t care about your own health, think about those whose health you are impacting. No sense in opening Level ten.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.