People refer to our present coronavirus pandemic often in apocalyptic tones. This is understandable because as of this writing in the United States alone we have around 1,356,620 cases and 80,422 deaths and rising. Furthermore, we are experiencing the most severe economic downturn since the Depression, there is no assurance that the end is really in sight, most of us remain in lock-down status, there is a cantankerous debate about when we can return to work places, and we must continue to wear masks, wash hands regularly, and practice social distancing. And we endure a failure of leadership in the highest level to provide trustworthy information as well as to model and guide the public i appropriate behavior.
As one infectious disease medical doctor said to me, it is a mess. This means we are continuing to learn new information about COVID-19 as we go along. And we go along state-by-state, county-by-county, and often city-by-city.
No wonder we linger under a cloud of heavy foreboding, and seemingly apocalyptic uncertainty. Friends, family, acquaintances, and public personalities are getting sick and dying. And yet, a prevailing mantra sounds throughout the land, "We will get through this together." Which we will.
Be of good heart! In the midst of this sorrow and death-dealing time, and in the words of the '60's still resonating in my ears, "Keep the faith"! To do that, be sure to grab hold of whatever humor you can.
Toward that end, Though you might enjoy reading this short message sent me by a care-giver who daily faces the uncertainty of our time and the anxiety of his patients. I am including his message, sent me this week, in full. Please understand his irreverent tone as only one of his responses to the seriousness of our apocalyptic moment.
RIDING LAWNMOWERS AND THE MEN WHO COMMANDEER THEM
Help! I am surrounded by seven very hungry, angry, obnoxious, deafening, hyperactive, abhorrent, roaring, vicious, bullying, and brainless riding lawnmowers and the men who commandeer them. And did I say relentless? Or socially insensitive? Or unbelievably clueless that there might be other people in the world who would like to sit quietly on their back decks, porches, lawns, hammocks, and beach chairs which will not see a beach and feel the warm, soothing, healing beach sand anytime in the foreseeable future?
But let me not presume to get carried away about these late 20th century machines that function as a secondary status symbol for the suburbanites whose chief marker of achievement in life was to grow the perfect, weedless, disease-less, greenest lawn as a measure of success and winner of the annual prize of first place in the neighborhood's rating of best lawns. Oh yes, such lawns command attention of the parents who ferry their children to various classes and events that will prepare the children to grow up and manicure lawns such as these!
But, pardon me, I do digress. For I was talking about those monstrous machines and the men whose major delight in their lifeless days seems to be the moment they can hop on those sharp-toothed devils and ride off -- not into the sunset unfortunately, but beside the neighbor's house whose occupants might be trying to entertain a guest outside, perhaps even an elderly aging person whose hearing is not all that good anyway, and who had not been invited outside to talk to a live human being since the pandemic began some months ago, an age now lost in time before time itself was consumed by riding lawnmowers and the men who commandeer them.
But another thousand apologies for my losing my train of thought. Sorry! I could not hear myself think because of the mind-controlling noise outside.
O yes, I was about to say something about those men who commandeer these strutting riding machines, all of which come in colors as loud as the noises they belch. However, as I was saying, or not saying because my train of thought continues to be interrupted by this creeping, gnawing interloper grinding up the dust beside my house, pulverizing the grass, chasing the squirrels and rabbits who still try to create their humble little habitats within the shrubs where we promised them they would always be safe -- an age long before we knew of the terror of men who seem to have nothing to do during pandemics but to jump on their riding mowers and play General Patton riding atop his M46 tank, commanding a battalion of men who also wanted to ride atop their tanks in pursuit of the enemy's tanks.
Ah, finally, I got back to where I was attempting to direct my attention, just before my neighbor made another swipe at my bordering yard that has not yet surrendered ! Although our cat looks at me quizzically, wondering either, "Why do you not have one of those?" or "What can you do to make them stop?"
But, as I was attempting to say before a loud noise like an explosion shook my study and I had to investigate if some plane had fallen on us out of the sky... No, I conclude, it is the neighbor behind us. He has a generator -- several, in fact, it seems -- and he was powering up for some other adventure which complements the chorus of several other riding lawnmowers in the neighborhood, which when they all get going at the same time with a cacophony of grunts, wheezes, pops, whines, grinds, and rattles would have made General Patton proud.
There, I think I came upon what I may have been attempting to get at about men who seem to love riding their riding lawnmowers during pandemics when they cannot find other "manly" things to do. They just cannot help themselves. That is the long and short of it. If we do not have a war with tanks, if we cannot explore outer space, ride in a submarine under the ice caps, chase other cars in a circle around a race track, or pummel other men in a boxing ring -- men can claim their place in nature by subduing the lawn grass with their riding lawnmowers.
Before I forget it, however, let me put in a good word about these men. They dress up sharply in their red outfits and polish up their riding lawnmowers so they look particularly splendid in our neighborhood's annual Christmas parade, always led by a local fire truck that tests its horn at the smiling neighbors who proudly salute the passing riding lawnmowers and the men who ride them.
Not all of us have to contend with the riding lawnmowers as does my friend. But each of us has other "monsters" with which we must deal. Remember, however, just like those riding lawnmowers and the men who commandeer them, this too shall pass! It is not a rider on a pale horse or a man on a riding lawnmower, but whatever, this too shall pass.