Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
These COVID days have gotten pretty strange for me. I’ve never had this much time on my hands, so I’m behaving differently in many ways. I have, for example, started watching way too much television news. This has led me into imaginary conversations with Donald Trump, like this recent one:
“Hey Don, I heard you bragging about your fantastic score on your dementia screening test. Setting the bar a little low are you? You considered it a triumph of mental acuity when you could memorize the five words person, woman, man, camera and TV, then repeat them back a short time later. Well, POTUS Guy, I aced that test also. It was so easy that I asked for the advanced form. My five words were syzygy, sciolism, zymurgy, eleemosynary and subdermatoglyphic. Not only did I repeat them back later, but I also spelled and defined them.
And you thought you were so smart because you could identify and name an elephant? My identifications were of a Tasmanian devil, a black-spotted cuscus and an axolotl.
Okay Don, I admit it, I didn’t really take the test, but at least I’m not boasting about knowing what an elephant looks like. To do that I’d have to be, well, you know, “demented.”
It’s not just TV news I’m overdosing on, I’m binging on television in general. I’ve lost the restraint and discernment I used to exercise. My wife Susan is starting to worry about me. Last night she walked into the room, shook her head sadly and said, “Really? It’s come to this? Reruns of Barnaby Jones?”
I figured I needed to get some focus back into my life and thought maybe meditation would help. I got a book on Zen meditation and tried it out. Sitting on the floor in the lotus position hurt my knees. I switched to the half-lotus, which only hurt one knee and wasn’t much of an improvement. I tried just sitting on the floor but that hurt my back. I switched to my easy chair and that worked fine. Susan said I should probably turn off the TV while meditating. She suggested that one of the koans in my Zen book might help me center. I started with “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” After about 20 minutes I decided it was too hard, so I pulled out my phone and asked Siri. She told me that the sound of one hand clapping was silence. Well, duh, that’s pretty obvious. I didn’t feel enlightened, just irritated, so I gave up on meditation. Besides, it was time for the six o’clock news.
There is, however, one thing that has helped keep some balance in my life since this coronavirus thing started, and that’s my indispensable work here at the Cascadia Weekly. I must confess, though, that I recently considered giving up writing satire. This occurred while perusing the 36 candidates running for governor in the state primary election. I said to myself, “Mr. Cranky, you can’t make up stuff this outlandish. Reality is rendering you obsolete.” The majority of candidates were crackpots, cretins, conspiracy theorists or all three. One of my favorites was Alex Tsimerman of the Standup America Party who has a 25-point program consisting of the same sentence repeated 25 times: “Stop Seattle/King Fascism with idiotic face!” Another favorite was Thor Amundson of the Independent Party who entered the governor’s race but asked voters to send him to the U.S. Senate.
After the smoke cleared, Republicans chose Loren Culp, a small-town police chief who thinks COVID-19 is no big deal and thinks that as a policeman he gets to decide which laws are unconstitutional, apparently confusing himself with the state Supreme Court. Given Culp’s disdain for face masks and fondness for gathering in large, unmasked, closely packed groups, gamblers are now taking odds on whether he’ll still be alive when the general election rolls around.
I was so dismayed by all this that I had to sit down for three hours and watch reruns of Andy Griffith, Gomer Pyle, Green Acres and Hogan’s Heroes.
As if all this weren’t enough, I’m suffering from numerous injuries related to staying at home. I have carpel tunnel pain from pressing the TV remote too much, my fingers hurt from opening too many cans of soup, and I recently took a nasty fall, tripping on my bathrobe cord at 3:00 in the afternoon.