Bad? Sure, it’s bad. It’s miserable, frustrating and unrelenting, this COVID business. In spite of round-the-clock, all-you-can-eat news updates on THE CRISIS, firm answers elude us.

How bad will it get? How long will it continue? Will my circle of friends and family still be intact when it’s over? Is anyone I love dying even now as I think of them?  

Yep. This whole thing blows end to end, top to bottom. It’s like a crappy apocalypse movie only you’re right here at center stage instead of sitting back in a theater and delighting in the woes of fictional people. 

Terrible, all of it. 

But it could be worse. 

Oh Lord, yes. It could be worse. 

This COVID madness could have struck in the dead middle of winter, for one thing, and winter could have been of the more vicious variety. Imagine being stuck indoors while the freezing winds rattle the window panes and the driveway fills up with a foot of snow. Two feet. Four feet. 

Imagine not even being able to walk into the backyard for a lungful of air. Imagine not being able to do so much as open your door for fear that the monstrous winter gale might try to snatch you out into the frigid, infectious night. 

Claustrophobia? Sure, we got that. But hills of snow creeping up to the windowsills would have made our warm rooms feel even more like cloying coffins. 

COVID-19, that thorny demon, could have been accompanied by a twin germ who feasted on the computer realm as well as the human one. Imagine it: all of this isolation, but with the mother of all computer viruses knocking down our internet connections and leaving us truly alone within our walls. 

No Facebook on which to share hilarious coronavirus memes. No email with which to drop a note to mom and pop and your bestie on the other side of town. 

No Skype through which to see your grandkids’ animated faces and no Zoom with which to reach out to your church group or reading club. 

Without the internet, every one of us would be a tiny, bitter island floating in a sea of panic and precaution. By now, we might be drooling insane.

And grocery stores, God bless those sprawling centers of lingering humanity. Had the old C monster spread a little quicker or proven even deadlier, trucking might have faltered and the grocery store shelves would have been emptied within hours — within minutes, in some places. 

There would have been no mad dashes for milk and butter, eggs and cheese, flour and sugar, canned goods and Ramen noodles, because there would have been none to be had. The run on toilet paper wouldn’t have been anywhere near so comic, because the last rolls would have vanished real quick, and how are you enjoying that crumpled up newspaper, anyway? 

Depleted shelves would have changed the dynamics of this whole thing in hellish ways. Think you’re living in a crummy dystopian movie already? Add rampaging hordes of hungry, desperate and ruthless pirates and now you’ve got a high-definition horror movie and nobody gets to leave the theater. Best you can do is hunker down behind your flimsy walls, clutching dad’s old hunting rifle and hoping the chattering horrors you hear outside don’t make it to your neighborhood. 

The lights are still on. Pause a moment and try to imagine enduring this mini-hellscape in the dark. In the cold. In the roaring uncertainty that comes with utter silence and no reassuring voices to fill it. 

“Hello, out there!” you’d cry into the black night, but only the howling wind would answer: “Back inside, fool,” it would shriek, blowing a face-shredding bullwhip of snow into your face to emphasize its point, “and resume the task of dying lonely, hungry and afraid.” 

If you see a lineman crawling down a pole next time you venture outside, blow him a kiss as thanks for keeping the lights on, the computer humming, the TV chugging out its endless stream of monotonous, yet comforting clamor. 

Blow a kiss (from a safe distance, mind you) to a store clerk and stock boy, while you’re at it. And to a nurse, a paramedic, a postal carrier, a trash collector, a city worker who keeps water both hot and cold flowing through your pipes. 

We still can take hot showers; that’s something, isn’t it? Even if it means nothing to you, it probably means a whole lot to your wife or whomever it is who’s been forced to share your stinky space. Let us give thanks for hot water and massive bottles of fragranced soap, not to mention deodorant.

It could be worse, bros. This dread disease could have taken down our dogs and cats, and they wouldn’t be here to look at us all perplexed, wondering why we never leave the damn house anymore. I pity anyone who doesn’t have a dog, a cat, a parakeet or a measly gerbil to keep him company in these weird times.  

Remember all those mornings you looked bitterly upon your cat because he gets to stay home curled up in a square of sunlight while you had to march off to the office? Now’s your chance, friend. Muscle ol’ Snowball out of that sunbeam and reclaim it as your own. He’ll hiss at you a bit, but who’s house is it, anyway? Who pays the bills around here?

It’s pretty lousy, what we’re all enduring and chances are good it’ll get worse before it gets better. We’re not Mad Max wandering alone through a decayed world just yet, though. We’re not Stu Redman crawling out of a CDC prison and into a world that’s black and dead. 

COVID-19 is a loathsome little bug and who could blame you for hating it with all your heart? The little invader you can’t even see has changed our lives in ways we can’t yet imagine, it’s true. Use your new crafting skills to create a life-sized model of the little fiend and beat the snot out of it in your basement, nobody will judge you for that. Hell, shoot video of the assault and it’s sure to go, shall we say, viral? 

While you’re throwing your jabs, your upper cuts, your knees to the pestilent groin, try to hang on to a little perspective, though.

The situation is bad, sure enough. 

But in many significant ways, we got lucky. 

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