Well, now, it appears that Mr. Crow, that wily old shapeshifting trickster, is at it again—this time in the guise of the plague. Novel coronavirus? I never imagined, thirty-plus years ago, just how timely my developing propensity for escapism and social distancing would one day become. In all modesty, though, I’ve long been a Houdini-level escapist. Spirituality and religion have never really been my opiates of choice; but you can’t do everything. Art, poetry, opera, drugs, novels, travel, alcohol, bad relationships, long distance running (both literally and figuratively), assorted debaucheries: I’ve never suffered from a shortage of means to slip the surly bonds of ordinary life. A head filled with useless knowledge, and a pocket filled with painkillers. Of all of these, I suppose literature and art have been the healthiest getaway vehicles. Sadly, though, these days the theatres, concert halls, and art galleries are shut down, while the peddlers of alcohol and drugs (sanctioned and illicit) are still raking in a fortune. So, what are we to do?
To get myself through, I’ve been dreaming up these little themed diversions each weekend (well, Wednesday to Sunday). This week’s theme is “Lowbrow Pop Sugar,” during which I’m eating many pink frosted donuts and reading Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. Up next , on back-to-back weekends, are “Burning Down the Bauhaus,” (listening to old post punk vinyl and reading vintage design magazines), and “Altered Steaks of Awareness,” (filet mignons, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and a double booking at the flotation tank spa).
I have no problem wallowing in these little luxuries and pleasures all by myself, or with a very small number of like-minded sky larkers. After all, for an introvert, social isolation is like a tiki party for the soul.
There’s a part of me, though, that wonders if I’m not being a tad too insouciant about this whole thing. I mean, are shrugs and bad puns really the best response to what some people, against all common sense and available data, seem to see as the end of the world? Should I not be panicking? Instead of writing this wretchedly irresponsible column, for instance, should I not be doing something more constructive, like volunteering my time at a hospital, or driving to Costco and snatching the last package of toilet paper out of some elderly lady’s hands? In truth, I have considered doing one of those things, but was stalled by general inertia, an expired membership card, and a low level of gas in the tank.
Am I too lazy, shallow, and apathetic? It’s a question you may well be asking yourself about me, and frankly it’s one that I simply can’t be bothered to answer. For now, I’m just hunkered down in my living room, drinking prosecco, listening to Bach, studying paint chips and wallpaper swatches with a view to an upcoming reno, and mind mapping Japanese retro horror, frangipani, butterfly prawns, cool jazz, good sativa, beeswax candles, and homemade bread. Oh, the delights ahead! The times may bode ill, but I intend to frivolously multitask-away the anxiety. Come what may, I will recklessly enjoy my time in isolation before the world comes back to its senses again.