March 17 – Three days I have been in voluntary quarantine here in my condo. I’m not complaining. I’m too old for the front lines and the sight of a needle makes me nauseous. But stay at home? Piece of cake, as they say. I miss my wife, who was visiting her mother when the word came down with the stay-at-home edict. So it’s me against the virus.

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

March 21 – This is harder than I thought. Time moves so slowly, measured by the number of times I’ve washed my hands, which is another one of my new civic and patriotic duties. As of this entry I’ve scrubbed my hands a total of 72 times in four days. It takes about 10 verses of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

K came by and honked his horn to say hello and I was so excited I locked myself out of the house. He drove away, with barely a wave; are we still friends? Z called me on the phone and said his 12-year-old grandson wants to show him how to set up a conference using something called Zoom. We tried it, but all I could pick up on my computer was a security camera at the local laundromat.

March 23 – Spring will not arrive this year and summer is still a question mark. It is so eerie to see on television cities like New York and Rome and Paris deserted, the streets empty like there had been a nuclear war or worse, the season finale of “The Bachelor.”

During the lockdown I’ve been watching a lot of television and sure, there’s some good stuff, but the daytime talk shows and quiz shows, who could sit through such inanity? There must be some school or institution where the average person can learn to jump and squeal excitedly over winning a new dinette set that’ll fit perfectly in your city apartment.

What lessons can we learn from all this? Will we have to wear masks the rest of our lives? If so, can some entrepreneur come out with masks that have something to say or at least make us look better? I would put in for a mask with a likeness of Andrew Cuomo, for example.

It gets confusing.

A friend told me the following story that happened a long time ago: His friend was a doctor and the doctor’s wife was a nurse. They were on duty at the hospital when some kind of emergency occurred having to do with radiation and about a dozen doctors and nurses all dressed in protective masks, gloves, the whole thing. So you can hardly see who is behind the masks and the plastic shields that fit over the face. While waiting for the procedure to start, the doctor walks up to his wife and in a dramatic whisper says how much he has loved her and what a privilege their marriage has been and he just wanted to say those words here and now.

“That’s sweet,” a friendly but unknown voice said from behind the mask, “but I’m Julie. I believe your wife is over there.” She pointed across the room.

Stay safe. Stay well.

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