The Pandemic’s Plus Side

     I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic. I wasn’t even sure there was one. But I am an eternal optimist (although I don’t always show it). I know we are living in a dire situation. We are in uncharted territory. Most of us haven’t had to live through life altering changes in our lifetime. And yet here we are. I had some time (plenty of it) to do some soul searching to look for any glimmer of good news during the current crisis. And believe it or not, I found some.

     The first positive change I noticed was the new order of life’s priorities. Suddenly money (or lack thereof) wasn’t on the top of my list of worries. Like a lot of people, my income is less because I’m working less hours. But since there is nowhere to go, money is no longer a concern. I belong to a group of Powerball players affectionately dubbed “The Four Of Us”. We have kept up our weekly tradition of buying shared lottery tickets as we wait for our ship to come in. The only problem is cruise ships have stopped sailing. What good is all the money in the world if you can’t spend it anywhere? Lottery headquarters isn’t even open. When we win we’re going to have to wait for the pandemic to end before we collect. We’ll keep playing since we’ve invested too much to stop now. But it’s interesting how money has taken a lower rung on the ladder of life.

     The price of gasoline is lower than it has been in years. Less demand means plummeting prices. I now fill my gas tank once a month if that. My beloved Dodge Nitro is sits in the driveway like a relic from the past. (Okay, it’s a 2008 so maybe it is a relic from the past, but still). I start it up once a week just to keep the fluids moving. At this rate, it’s going to last until 2028 and I’ll be able to pass it down to my granddaughter. 

     Wearing the latest fashions is easier than ever. Corona couture is all the rage. The latest trend is all about recycling things from the depths of your closet. Bandana’s are back. Gloves are in style again. Utilitarian uniforms are all the rage. High-fashion hazmat suits are flying off the shelves of the stores that are allowed to open. It doesn’t matter what we wear anymore since most of us are working from home. Got a favorite pair of jeans? You can wear them for a week and not worry about washing them, unless you wore them to the grocery store. 

     There’s no need to keep up with current hairstyles. Mullets are back. People on Facebook are participating in the Covid-head challenge: post a photo of what you look like since the pandemic closed barber shops and hair salons. I’ve given up trying to buy hair-clippers on Amazon. My current hairstyle is a cross between A Flock of Seagulls and Food Network’s Chef Anne Burrell (Google both references if you’re not familiar). It’s too early for a summer wiffle, but when the temperature hits 90 degrees I’ll be looking in the back of my junk drawer for a TrimComb. Remember that ancient torture device from your youth? It’s a wide plastic comb with a built-in double-edged razor blade. What could go wrong? For now, I’m happy to “Let It Grow” as the Disney song says.

     Neighborhoods have become much more friendly. Everyone is in Blizzard of ‘78 mode with quick hellos and how-can-I-help you’s. I’ve had conversations with neighbors I haven’t exchanged words with in years. People are keeping their distance though, which is how it should be with neighbors even without a pandemic. It’s funny how catastrophes bring people together. Maybe funny isn’t the right word. 

     There is one plus-side of the pandemic that I could do without. It’s the plus-size of my sweatpants. Friday night frozen pizza has returned with a vengeance. My wife and I are trying a different brand each week until we’ve sampled everything Market Basket has to offer. So far, DiGiorno is winning the taste test. The pandemic has brought back home-made cake baking, forgotten brownie recipes and blueberry scones from scratch. Healthy lifestyles are on hiatus until further notice. These are trying times, and when it comes to food, I’m trying everything.

     The pandemic has put things in perspective. Social distancing from my family is hard. It makes me appreciate them even more. Seeing the faces of my grandchildren fills my heart with love. Seeing them visit from behind the glass of my front porch window brings me to tears. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then pandemics make the heart grow stronger. Hugs are the new currency, more valuable than anything found in our wallets. Hold onto your loved ones as tightly as you can, even if it’s from six-feet away.

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