Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Headbands In A Time Of Pestilence

"Let's enjoy these aimless days while we can..." Don DeLillo White Noise

It's all in the headband. I own a stretchy NBA headband and a bland blue stretchy headband. On this night, I choose to tie around my head a length of material torn from an old concert shirt that doesn't fit anymore.

People are not neutral about headbands.  It's one of the few statements in modern life that cannot shrugged away.  Strangers in the mall have gone out of their way to tell me: "You know, people don't wear those anymore."

I wear them.  While exercising, of course, but also to the grocery store, watching my kids at karate class, swimming, cutting the grass, checking the communal mailbox. I even have a smart black headband that I wear with my suit to job interviews.

My morning was spent trying to transfer funds from my bank account to my microwave oven. The unhelpful bank person on the phone told me it was impossible because my microwave oven does not have an email address. It does.

Because the markets are chewing the genitals off of my investments.  They are not, precisely, investments.  I think of investments as stocks that have been researched and then purchased after long sober thought.  I'm involved in funds, entangled in plans -- a plan.  A plan whose genitals are being chewed off by the stock market.

They're coming. They're coming for the toilet paper.  I crouch in the bushes in front of my house, headband secured around my head.  My hands grip an old shillelagh my grandfather brought back from Ireland decades ago. This is new Airborne Toxic Event. The Corona Virus -- COVID-19, which makes it sound like a video game -- is something else in this place that suffers no floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes.  The worst we suffer are hard rains, terse looks in traffic, squirrels eating our tulip.

It was the absence of toilet paper in the supermarket, that told me, Shit's flying.  In the past, I avoided making that purchase of household goods out of a childish embarrassment, the tacit public admission that I, too, use toilets. But the Panic inspired by the absence of toilet paper, the miles long empty shelf in the supermarket, had nothing to do with commodal works.

If they -- faceless, nameless, without conscience they -- have ransacked the toilet paper aisle, I thought.  What is next?

I use exercise to deal with stress. You can always tell how terrible I feel by how good I look.

This time of pestilence is causing everyone stress because it reminds us all that we are going to die, at some point.  That death will come like a thief in the night even if it comes in the form of a Honda during the day.

The virus is causing trouble not only by making people sick, it's challenging our distractions.  Professional sports are gone.  Public gatherings are finished.  Even going to bars and restaurants is against the public conscience.  We are left with 1970s-era distractions: TV, Internet, cell phones, board games... conversation...  No doubt, there are people beginning to think that death would be preferable.

One of my distractions is riding my stationary bike. Some friends say, "How can you do it, day after day?  You don't go anywhere."

And I wonder, How do you say if I don't go anywhere why am I always different when I get off the bike again?

I also hear: "You don't see people wearing headbands at the gym."

"People still work out at gyms?"  I said.

You are what you do for free. You are what you do when it cost you to do it. You're not a doctor, or a cab driver, or a landscaper. You're a stamp collector, hunter, or a ventriloquist. And when you do it while wearing a headband, you do it with verve.

My nightly vigil is nearly done.  I really feel like I've gotten to know myself while crouching in the bushes.  Who cares if I sleep away the day.  The toilet paper can keep itself safe in the sunlight.

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