There is no escaping COVID-19. Not even in casual conversation. I’m a little reluctant to admit this, given how bad the situation is, but I am tired of all of the COVID conversations. It’s enough having to deal with the pandemic in day-to-day life: working from home, with the kids around, and planning to work from home with the kids home when the school year starts; wondering if there will be a vaccine anytime soon; wondering when and if some sense of normalcy will return. Clearly, the pandemic touches every part of our lives. But now, even casual conversation centers around the virus. It’s become common courtesy to ask someone how they are faring. I’m clearly conflicted over this. I get enough from the newspapers I read each day, and from the updates from our state and local municipalities, from the school system, from the recreation system. I hate to admit it, but COVID is the last thing I want to talk about in casual conversation.
When I lived in L.A., all anyone would talk about after an earthquake was the earthquake. “Did you feel that last night?” “What were you doing when the ground started shaking?” “Anything get knocked off shelves in your place?” Completely understandable, but it generally lasted a day or so and then conversation drifted to other things. No so with COVID. The virus is digging in its proverbial nucleic acids and there’s no escaping it. For instance:
- The baseball season (if you can call it that) started and normally, baseball is a great topic for casual conversation. When the Yankees played the Mets in the pre-season, I was able to say to Mets fan I knew how impressed I was with the Mets; I was surprised that managed to score 3 runs in that 2-game series. But if you talk baseball now, the conversation turns to how strange the season is thanks to COVID, and how stupid major league baseball was for even holding a season. What’s happened with the Marlins was entirely predictable.
- “What are you doing for your summer vacation?” is a non-starter. Many people are spending their summers looking for jobs that just aren’t there. Talk of vacation leads to talk of the travel industry and how it has been decimated by COVID.
- “Any good shows you’ve been watching lately?” I’m not a big TV watcher, but I’ve discovered that even television and movies have ben affected by COVID.
- Ask what someone’s reading and they are likely as not to say John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza.
- Even the normally innocuous weather will lead to discussions of COVID. In my area, we set a record for the most number of July days above 90 degrees. Pools are closed or limited so you can’t escape the heat in a pool. People are stuck indoors and at their wits end because of the virus.
I need a break from it. I don’t mean to suggest I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend the virus isn’t there. There’s no way to do that. And I don’t mean to suggest that other people should give up talking about COVID just because I am sick of it. But I’d love to have a conversation about something other than COVID. Each time such a conversation begins, a part of me is crestfallen. How many times can I repeat the same things over and over again? I know that people like to gossip and commiserate, but for me it has reached Groundhog Day proportions of repetitiveness.
Maybe what I should do is create an FAQ here on the blog, and have little cards printed up with a QR code and URL that I can hand out when the conversation inevitably turns to COVID.