I’m no epidemiologist – hell, I can’t even pronounce that word so I may not be qualified to make this call – but as is often the case after disaster, destruction, death or a diatribe, some folks wonder out loud and online: Too soon?
If you’ve had the temerity to leave your homes, bunkers and shelters in the past couple weeks to go out and socialize, you might wonder if that is the case right now. Or you might not. Obviously, a lot of folks don’t.
Bars and restaurants around the city seem to be humming and buzzing. At least, in my Mid-City neighborhood they are, with their neon lights and white string bulbs beckoning customers into their freshly scrubbed – often freshly painted – businesses.
(And if you’re a bar or restaurant owner and didn’t take the opportunity to clean your grease traps and scrub my phone number off your bathroom stalls over the past few months – shame on you!)
I must admit, it’s heartening to see the joints on my street, in the Quarter, Uptown and around the rest of the city infused with life and energy; local folks out doing that thing that New Orleans does best –making noise and spending money. It’s been a burst of relief, refreshment and renewal. But, at what cost?
Let me state from the outset that I am – either by birth, life experience or environmental influences – reckless, feckless, nihilistic, fatalistic and willfully insouciant. No wonder I found my way to New Orleans, right?
But if you look at a map of COVID-19 upticks in recent weeks as states have begun to reopen – they’re hard to miss; they’re as ubiquitous as those cones of uncertainty that precede hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico – amazingly: Louisiana is not in the surge. Currently.
Given that we generally lead the nation (or tie with Mississippi) in bad things – education, health care, crime, STDs, etc. – it’s a wonder that we’re not leading the way on this one. Particularly since this is a pandemic spread by talking too much, laughing too loud, living too large, etc.
I am not well-versed in being a Debbie Downer, but I’m still keeping my own self inside, waiting until this thing is all clear. If it ever gets all clear. Otherwise, they’ll one day discover my unshaven, unshowered corpse on my couch with the remote in my hand, Turner Classic Movies playing on endless loop.
Side note: Although it seems like it’s been around forever, the term “Debbie Downer” was actually first coined in a Saturday Night Live Skit in 2004. (However, the term “downer” long precedes that. As noted in wordgenius.com: “The printed English lexicon first adopted the word “downer” in 1886. That year seemed to teem with other lively gems such as zoom, scrappily, ultrahazardous, pasteurization, milkshake, mascara and french fry.”)
Zoom and Downer were born the same year. Who says you can’t learn stuff reading this blog? Milkshake that!
But I stray.
It’s great to see folks out and about, socializing, being happy, living free. My fellow French Quarter tour guides are back on the street telling tales and my fellow Pirate Alley artists are hanging their pictures on the fence again. And that makes me happy. But concerned.
Maybe that’s because I am of the age group and pre-existing demographic most likely to succumb to the new plague. Or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse not to go back to work.
But I worry. My partner can tell you: I’m a world class worrier. If it was an Olympic sport, I’d be the Michael Phelps of worrying. Except without the weed.
It makes me paranoid.
And I guess that’s why I’m more than a little hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck-raised about our current situation. Yes, it is heartening and important and vital that businesses are reopening and folks are getting back to work. Hell, I’d love to have a job right now. (Hint, hint.)
But in this, our summer of discontent, I can only push my nihilism aside and hope that the Fates beat back the Furies and that one day soon, we will all wake up to a brave new world.
Woke, vaccinated, unafraid and redeemed. Toes and fingers crossed.