Writing Process: Characters of the Covid Age

This Covid Pandemic is carving pieces of people away. In an attempt to maintain a semblance of normalcy through posting images, completing puzzles and asserting that all will be well, a feeling of identity loss dominates instead. Or thinking that anyway.

The need to belong somewhere – friends, family, a team or bar – has been eroded by life being moved onto the screen. This has created a sense of mutation, a half-shell of selves turned sideways into paper-thin abstractions with cartoon broken arms, modules and warts sloping out in disturbing and hopeless directions.

This isn’t a one-dimensional thing, but a sputtering prick into the bubble of self-awareness where one thinks of being half-asleep in a dream, shruggling (shrugging & struggling) with the accusations and denials of one’s most obvious flaws made obscene and dull. And it’s only getting louder.

Words to Convince People That Covid-19 is Still a Thing

Covid-19 Exhaustion has set in. The distancing tape is peeling, masks are hanging and the stores and subways are packed again. What is going on?

I guess all of the signs have been up too long, and we need new words to remind us that the pandemic is still here.

Perhaps we should send dead people to walk the street?

Or maybe a sign like this: Do we not remember what happened in March? Do we not remember being stuck in our apartments? Do we not remember the silence of the city? The empty streets? The death tolls? Are we that fucking stupid?

For all the complaining about Trump, maybe we deserved him in the end.

Overlooked Manhattan: Amish Market and Other Closed Stores

While Trump’s statement that New York is a ghost town is a gross understatement, there are quite a few businesses that have kept their doors closed for the time being.

Along with the surprising closing of a Starbucks, many independent businesses have shut down, including a number of bars and restaurants, the iconic Century 21 store and Amish Market on Park Row.

But let’s be clear, Chicken Little, New York City isn’t close to being dead. As good as that might be for clickbait, it’s bilge water, as my father used to say. Just try to remember that a pandemic is a pandemic, which means that we have to respect the medical authorities, and that there is always something else coming around the corner.

Five Guys is apparently coming soon. I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, it’s time to treasure that Escape from New York feeling. No doubt we will be sentimental about it in the years to come.

Covid Days: The Hardware Store

I just needed a couple of keys cut, but these guys needed everything. I couldn’t tell if they were drunk, on heavy meds or just done with the whole Covid Thing. They had masks on, although the older guy’s mask barely hung over his disheveled beard while his younger companion pulled his mask down every time he talked. That’s a weird pattern of many people during these trying times. Makes you think they don’t understand what the purpose of the mask is in the first place.

Anyway, drunk, drugged or just weirded out by the Covid days, neither of these guys used an inside voice nor seemed to care about the others in the store.

“I need a chair!” The older guy half yelled, almost like he was in pain. “I got to sit down.”

His companion, maybe in his early 30’s, pulled his mask down and went up to cashier. “I need a chair.”

She frowned. “You need what?”

“You know, one of those folding chairs, for camping. A chair.”

The older guy sat down heavily on the stairs. “I don’t need to buy a chair! I just need to sit!”

“Oh, okay.” The companion wheeled back and forth. “We don’t need a chair then.”

“I need a lock!” The older guy slumped forward, his hoodie cloaking much of his face, an exhausted Obi Wan Kenobi. “Come on!”

“What kind of a lock?”

“You know! A lock!”

“Okay.” He turned back to the cashier. “We need a lock.”

“What kind of lock?” She asked nervously.

“What kind of a lock do you need?” The companion asked the older guy.

“When I get home, I need to lock my stuff up so no one can get in, right?”

“He needs a lock.”

“Do you mean the cylinder?” The woman asked.

The companion looked back. “Do you mean the cylinder?”

“I need the damn lock, man! Get me the best one!”

“The best one you have, all right?” He repeated to the cashier.

The cashier wandered off, unsure of what to do, while another cashier came available for me. I gave him my keys. “Three copies of each, please.”

The other cashier returned. “What kind of lock do you need?”

“I need a damn lock to keep people from taking my stuff, man!” The old man was really yelling now. “Like you have when you come home? I need that!”

“We don’t have that. I’m sorry.”

The younger guy didn’t seem to care about any of it, like it was all a long and winding game. “They don’t have it.”

“What about a pressure cooker? They got that?”

He turned to the cashier. “Do you have a pressure cooker?”

“They don’t have it.”

“Pots and pans. I need pots and pans!”

“Okay.” The young guy was smiling crazily, like he was unsure of where he was and what this was all about. “Do you have any pots and pans?”

“I’m sorry.”

My keys were cut. “Thank you.”

“Soups! You got any kind of soups? Jiffy Pop! I need that.” It didn’t look like they were going anywhere soon.