No Foolin’

smiley face mask 0420Never much of a fan of practical jokes, and rarely someone who can remember jokes, April 1 is not my idea of a great holiday. This year I imagine most of us are having trouble seeing the humor in the world’s most colossal prank of our lifetimes.

There is one joke I sort of remember. The punchline I always recall, because it’s really less a joke than a homily. But I can never remember the third thing (I know the boat and the helicopter), so I’m making up my own version for you here.

A flood is threatening a religious man. As the waters reach into his house, people in a truck come by and invite him to hop on. He refuses: “The Lord will take care of me.” (You can use any deity or deities you would like.) As the water drives him to his second story, people in a boat come by and offer to take him. He refuses: “The Lord will take care of me.” As water sends him to the rooftop, a helicopter hovers overhead, offering to lift him away. He refuses: “The Lord will take care of me.” As the water inundates him and he is drowning, he cries in one last gasp of despair: “Lord, why didn’t you take care of me?” And a voice booms from the heavens above: “I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter. What more do you want?”

So, as Lynn’s co-corker was eyeing the newly-installed plastic barrier at the post office and smirking, because he knows — he knows — he is safe from this virus (which I imagine is a made-up hoax anyway), because Jesus has his back, he should perhaps consider my joke. “Heaven helps those who help themselves.” Isn’t that an axiom?

The governor of Florida is so busy looking around for people to fob authority onto that he’ll have no time to accept blame for the crisis that everyone but him can see is headed for his state, which is rapidly — and I mean rapidly — approaching 7,000 cases. (We’ve probably topped that as I type.) He’s waiting for word from his great friend the president to order Floridians to shelter in place, but the word at the national level is that they’re leaving it up to the governors. So then it’s up to local officials to set the parameters for their own realms. As long as we’re all clear: it’s not the governor’s place to take action. What a joke.

I read a short article in The Atlantic this morning about how the virus is being politicized in this country, with Republicans feeling sure that Democrats are overreacting and Democrats decrying Republicans for not taking this seriously. The author detailed a Georgia country club, where the younger, more Democratic-leaning members are adhering to the club’s “one person per cart” and “stay six feet away” rules while the older, generally Republican membership (those more likely to suffer severe consequences) are going out of their way to shake hands and pile as close as they can into carts. Frankly, no one ought to be golfing in any sort of foursome right now, although singles could probably recreate reasonably safely with staggered tee times.

Here in Gunnison, where we’re making national news for what still doesn’t feel like a local epidemic, all due to math, the county is already (surprisingly) starting — just talk, and for the future — to make noises about standing down. I believe the caseload they’re seeing and hearing from is diminishing fairly significantly, but they’re not ready to let their guard down yet.

So far they have doubts about a lot of the testing they’ve been offered, and are relying on the University of Colorado Health Sciences, which says a useful test is three to four weeks out. In the meantime the county is undertaking fecal testing at the wastewater treatment plants, which won’t tell them what individuals have covid-19 but will give them rough percentages for how many people around here might really have the virus.

The hospital is also seeking volunteers who have been tested, with either a positive or negative result, and are now recovered for a blood draw that will look into antibodies and immunity possibilities. So maybe some day we will get some sort of sense of how many people in the community had/have the virus.

Or not: my friend Julia yesterday called to say that she had just received her test result, and it was negative. Her husband Paul, whom she got to see via Facetime yesterday, although he was sedated, tested positive. They did not test Julia at that time, since she had the exact same symptoms. But when she went back to the hospital for a second time they did test her, with the result not arriving until yesterday (also a cruel joke — this lag time is not helping the situation).

Either the test was wrong, or we can’t really tell what’s covid-19 and what’s something else. The county’s one death did test positive, post-mortem, for covid-19, although his spouse tested negative for covid and positive for flu. I suppose that’s all less a joke than a riddle.

But there are some things to genuinely smile about. Lynn and I heard from our friend Mary yesterday, who is adjusting to her new role as home school teacher for two of the world’s cutest kids. She reported they were going to “social distance purchase” some ice cream “to celebrate two successful days of home school with no expulsions or teacher crying (well, one full day without teacher tears).”

She and the “man who now works in my basement” have also set a goal of working out to gain “Michelle Obama arms,” so that when we finally are able to see them, when they are allowed to visit, they will want to lift things and point so that we can admire their newly-buff arms.

Then I found this, via the Washington Post via Twitter via Facebook via The Guardian, which made me laugh out loud at 6 a.m. (Do you have any idea how rare that is?) Enjoy, and I hope you find some joke today that’s not too cruel or stupid that makes you laugh.


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