Early in the pandemic, I wanted to do a comedy sketch about a Leave It To Beaver-type family in a 50s sitcom - Who happened to actually be Covid. I was pretty sure that hilarity would ensue as Dad and Mom and little Betty Sue wreaked unintentional havoc on their little white-washed American town (“Remember, sweetie, no kiss on the first date - But be sure to hold hands!”).
Unfortunately, it’s not funny any more - As I am now living out the reality that I had only imagined. I am the only family member in our household who doesn’t currently have Covid.
It started with my grandson. You see, our governor, who, amazingly enough, actually followed the science and kept our state Covid numbers down, suddenly remembered that he was a Republican, and lifted the mask mandate. My grandson’s elementary school sent a polite, politically-correct letter to families practically pleading between the lines that, although masks are now optional, for God’s sakes, be reasonable and put one on your kid as they walk into school. Well, there are some parents who did not agree, I assume, because masks became spotty. Sure enough, we received a letter about how fourteen ‘people’ in school were diagnosed with Covid. These lucky ‘folk wouldn’t be attending school for at least a week, and certain classrooms had been told to stay home and quarantine for three days, just to be certain all was well. The school added another eight people in a second letter the next day. I assume the late-bloomers had caught up with the rest of their classmates and joined them in the Covid line.
But we didn’t really need the letter. My grandson came home with, you know, the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named. We kept him in his room by bribing him with video games and cloud-stored movies. We marveled as he ran through facial tissue boxes like the Kardashians run through significant others. A week later, we thought the worst was over, the boy tested negative, and was feeling better. We had made it through the troubles relatively unscathed.
But apparently dad didn’t get the “all clear” memo. He was the next to test positive. My step-daughter wound up staying on the second floor, with him in their bedroom on the third floor, and myself and my wife in our normal digs on the ground floor. At least the rest of us could meet in the middle, tend to life in the kitchen, and still have a semblance of normality - making sure to send some dinner up to dad, of course. My grandson would drop it at dad’s door, shout, “Dinner!” Then run away quickly, like a doorbell prank.
Midway into this arrangement - mom started getting the sniffles. That did not bode well, and we truly felt for her. My wife and I looked at her lovingly, told her we felt her pain, then slowly backed away with sympathetic smiles plastered on our faces, and hand sanitizer bottles firmly held behind our backs. She was the next one to fall in our modern re-telling of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None - Covid Edition”.
So we were down to just grandma and grandpa; myself and my wife. Us against the world on the bottom floor, pluckily slugging it out. Unfortunately that would last for only a day longer, before my wife noticed that her throat was hurting. Not hurting a little, like, “I seem to be coming down with something”, but hurting badly, like, “holy (insert flavorful foul word here), this is not right.”
…And then, there was one.
My son-in-law can no longer smell or taste, and he feels like he’s been run over by a bus. My step-daughter’s nose is running like Niagara Falls, and she feels like she’s been run over by a bus. My wife’s throat feels like diced meat trying to swallow half-eaten potato chips - and, as you may not know this, but I thought I would point it out, anyway: She feels like she’s been run over by a bus.
Now, here I am, all alone on the second floor, with mom and dad above me on the third floor, my wife below me on the ground floor. I am sandwiched between them, sleeping on the sofa, writing at the kitchen counter, and realizing that, while there is a bathroom - There is no shower on this floor…
I don’t know how I alone have survived to tell you the tale. But here I am, like Charlton Heston or Will Smith (pick your favorite version of the Omega Man), trying to avoid the Covid vampires. I drop food off at doors, take the now restored grandson to school, come back, close the mechanical, metal-plated electrified windows, and wait…
I wait for the passage of time. A day or so more before my son-in-law is no longer contagious, then another four or five for my step-daughter, then ANOTHER few past that for my wife. I have adopted a new life adage: Keep your friends close, but your sanitizer closer.
Will I stay safe? Will I get hit by the bus? Will I move to a hotel? These are the questions I ponder, as I sit by myself in my own little corner of the Covid world.
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Maybe you should become a bus driver . . .