A Novel Idea
You may think at first that the tirade I’m embarking on has nothing to do with books, but please be patient; I’ll get there.
Last week, I thought an anomaly had occurred in the hurricane season and its arrival was 2 ½ months early.
Line outside Costco store in California
Upon visiting my local Costco store in Southeast Florida, I had difficulty finding a parking spot. Inside the store, a line from the check-out stations extended almost to the back.
“How far away is the hurricane?” I asked an employee. Of course, I knew no hurricane was imminent. If the employee had been less than friendly, he might have replied to my snide question, “It’s the coronavirus, stupid.”
I just needed a few items, including eggs, which I eat daily, and they were out. My supply of toilet paper was adequate, fortunately for me, because I was told that was gone, too. Maybe I’m stupid (no opinions, please), but have any of these hoarders contemplated, first, their chances of contracting the virus; second, the likelihood they’d be holed up at home for any length of time; and third, the possibility that the powers that be would let them starve to death for lack of food in their domiciles, or they’d be too weak to avail themselves of one of the internet food delivery services at their fingertips? Nope. Instead, they pushed the panic button, just as they do well in advance of an approaching hurricane, which rarely strikes. Covid-19 is most dangerous to people over 60 (I easily qualify), but most of the people I saw in that Costco line were younger.
Yes, this is a serious disease. But do we go bananas every year with the onset of the flu season? No. Yet deaths from the flu can be pretty high. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that at least 12,000 died from October 1 to February 1, a span of four months, and the number could be as high as 30,000. Even if it’s only 12,000, that’s 36,000 in a year. Deaths from Covid-19 likely will climb quite a bit, but as I write, the tally is 80. To equal the flu mortality rate, that number will have to increase by a minimum of 450 times, or 45,000%. We can’t know what percentage of people who have contracted the virus have died, because, due to the initial pronouncement by our Dear Leader that it was “a hoax,” we have a serious shortage of kits for testing, unlike many other countries.
Yul Brynner in The King and I
But precautions are necessary because, as comedian Judy Tenuta used to say, “It could haaapen.” Yeah, and you could die in a car crash. But I’ll bet you’re not going to stop driving your car, or even restrict it to trips of necessity. Nonetheless, nobody wants to press hiser (my genderless pronoun) luck, or that of others hesh might contaminate, so the wise and responsible course of action is to do as the experts advise and limit contact with others by staying away from crowds, etcetera, etcetera (geez, I’m starting to sound like Yul Brynner).
Okay, so I returned to Costco the next day to see if the supply of eggs from free-roaming chickens had been replenished. It had. But I noticed the same phenomenon as the day before: Not a soul was in the book section.
Now I ask you: If you’re confined to your home for a week or two, what’s the worst thing you will experience? Cabin fever, aka boredom. And what do you do to relieve your languor? You could watch TV, and get even more stupefied by the endless recitation of facts and opinions and admonitions and stories relating to – you guessed it, the coronavirus. Oh sure, you could get lucky and find a good movie on one of the channels. But this gets old, too.
Book section at Costco store
What to do? Aha! I have it. Get engrossed in a book, or books, depending on your reading speed. What an opportunity to expand your horizons – to use a cliché you’ll unlikely find in a book. It does, however, apply to those such as my neighbor, who confessed to me recently that he’d never read a book. My goodness, what a great time for him to nourish his deprived mind.
So, in my consecutive-day visits to Costco, I looked over at the book section. Not a soul. The only thing on people’s minds was the carnal appetite, i.e., provision for the body, the mind be damned. My book, Murder in Palm Beach: The Homicide That Never Died, wasn’t there – but heck, there were a lot of other good books. (How’s that for a sly advertisement?)
Seriously, if you’re worried sick about getting, well, sick – or even if you’re not – hop on down to your local bookstore, or call up Amazon on your computer, and buy a novel, or a historical or political volume. Whatever suits your fancy.
It’ll likely chase the blahs away. And who knows, it may become habit-forming.