Last year at this time we were unknowingly living our last week of normal. Yup, it’s only been a year.
12 months ago, the NBA and NHL were playing basketball and hockey games nightly in front of tens of thousands of fans in indoor arenas. Professional golf was a month away from its’ first Major tournament of the season, the Master’s, to be played in front of hundreds of thousands of fans over the course of 4 days.
My wife and I were already looking forward to summer vacation, just over 3 months away, when we’d head to Los Angeles and see Ricky Gervais perform live. Heck, the entire RAD show was already working on major giveaways for listeners to go with us to see Tool in June, Aftershock in October, and even Joe Rogan in December.
Broadway was bustling, gyms were packed, there were endless lines of cars at schools every morning and afternoon, and it was only a year ago that if you suddenly desired an ice cold draught beer, you didn’t have to think twice about pulling into the nearest bar and ordering one.
This week in 2020, you could actually pretty much do anything on a whim. A quick pop-in to the grocery store was an afterthought, not a dreadful checklist of whether or not you had a face-covering handy and a discussion with yourself over how badly you wanted food versus how miserable the experience was about to be. Wanna go to dinner Friday night? Sure…that’s just a matter of picking the place, not first finding out if the place is allowing dining indoors, or if it’s even still in business.
There are endless things we took for granted and to be clear…we SHOULD HAVE. Lame attempts at trying to put a rosy perspective on how appreciative we’ll be moving forward are just that; LAME. We should not, in any way celebrate the things we’ve lost over the last year, especially since we don’t know how many of them we’re even going to get back.
Remember that a year ago? Remember having legitimate reason to actually be hopeful? To plan things and not have 1,000 what-ifs-related-to-Covid enter your mind? And I Don’t just mean plan to go to the movies, I mean your 2, 3 and 5-year plan. There is absolutely no logical, reasonable justification to believe we have any idea what the entire planet is going to look like in those years ahead.
That’s not to say, at all, whatsoever, that we have the option of not living, of not controlling our own lives, and not finding happiness. That remains the essence of what we must do. But as we approach the one-year anniversary of fundamentally altering our lives forever, it is useful, helpful, instructive, and painful to remember how we were all living one year ago, and why we should be living that way again far sooner than we probably ever will be.
I admit I’m not the biggest people person, but I sure do miss seeing people, strangers, smiling. Hell, I miss seeing their damn faces. I miss not having to ask people if they still shake hands or hug. I miss not having to ask people if they were “comfortable” going out or coming over. I miss seeing my dad.
A year ago, if one of our dogs had an issue, the thought of going to the vet was actually a pleasure. Now it’s a nightmare for all involved, most notably the animals. I know my mom won’t mind me sharing that she wound up in the ER recently…nothing serious, and she’s fine, but she’s also over 80 and that occasionally means you don’t ignore something that should be checked right away. While it’s funny to say “one good thing about Covid is that I didn’t have to spend the day at the ER with my mom,” (since visitors/guests aren’t allowed), it’s actually not funny. Waiting endlessly on the other end of a text message to find out how someone you love is doing when you SHOULD be there helping them ask questions and comfort them is not pleasant…nor is it right.
Which reminds me of another “joke” that needs to stop. The assertion that Covid has made it acceptable to be a slob is not something positive. It’s perfectly fine for any one of us, at any time, to take a comfort day or two…Christ, we all even fall into ruts now and then and just give up for a while; it’s called life. The idea that we’re normalizing not caring at all about our appearances is abhorrent. Every single one of us has a “look,” when we try and that’s a good thing. Why? It’s right there in the sentence! It means we’re TRYING. To encourage people to just give up entirely on a major facet of living a social life is disgusting, especially in light of all of the known mental health devastation we’ve caused in the last year. Incidentally, people that say they miss “dressing up,” piss me off. This is one of the few things that hasn’t been taken away from us; if you wanna dress up, do it, dummy. Have a fancy dinner at home, or (gasp) find a restaurant doing indoor dining and have a date night. They still exist, it just takes a little effort (synonym for try).
Also, stop saying you enjoy and/or appreciate less traffic on the road. No one hates other drivers as much as I do, but traffic is a sign of commerce and productivity. We need people on the roads. It was fun for a while, but enough is enough.
What about the smell of movie popcorn? Most of us in most of the country haven’t smelled that in almost a year.
A year ago you could walk into any clothing store and try things on before you bought them. What a concept. A year ago you thought a person was an axe murderer if they intentionally walked to the other side of the street or obviously avoided coming near you. Now it’s expected and even considered “polite.” A year ago, I couldn’t go a week without multiple in-person business meetings. Now, I’m lucky if I have one or two a month.
A year ago I could understand people when they spoke. Of course a year ago, you were a lunatic if you walked around wearing a mask and now it’s the exact opposite and worse; you’re a murderer if you don’t have a mask on.
I realize I’d be pushing the boundaries of reality to say that a year ago things made sense, but my God. At least some things did, now nothing at all does.
All of this is not meant to depress, nor is it meant to be some positive affirmation as mentioned before of appreciating what we once had. And the truth of the matter is that there are a very very very few good things, societally speaking, about the past year. Most notably, personal space has been restored! No more being crowded by the jerk behind you who’s in such a rush to check-out at the grocery store that he believes standing close enough for you to feel his breath will somehow speed up the process.
This Friday, March 12th, marks the one year anniversary of the night the NBA shut down the league due to Covid. One week later California became the first state in the nation to lockdown, and most soon followed, and it all began.
A year-ago we were a nation divided, to be sure. Half the nation was salivating over the thought of throwing President Trump out of office and the other half was relishing his upcoming landslide victory. Other than that, we fought about silly stuff, for the most part. Things like movies and sports, hearing Yanny or Laurel and whether or not a hotdog is a sand-which. Now we fight over openings and closings, masks, vaccines, gatherings, travel, and even how far we should run away from someone who sneezes.
A year ago this week, I wrote my first soapbox on the Coronavirus. As of this writing, I’ve done a total of 39. The week prior to that, when we were all still living, the soapbox was my response to, and the reprinting of, one of the most moronic e-mails the RAD show has ever received. And that’s saying something. If you want to remember what times like that were, it’s a fun read. https://radradio.com/robs-soapbox/yes-we-actually-receive-letters-like-this/
A year ago at this time I was mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant. Today, many of us are morning the loss of our country. I always feared I’d live to see it, although it’s been far more painful to watch than I ever dreamed. What a year.