Quarantine Chronicles Day 22: Daydreaming about life after lockdown

Woke up on Day 22 and did the usual quick self-diagnosis: No fever, no cough, no shortness of breath. Big toe hurts. Is that a symptom? Nope. Dr. Googler claims it’s just a reemergence of gout. Drink some cherry juice.

Daily activity No. 2: Check the internet for signs of hope. This morning it’s a grim double-barreled barrage of health leaders’ prognoses:  Anthony Fauci, the highest-ranking trustworthy person this country has these days, says this will be a “bad” week. And Surgeon General Jerome Adams chimes in by saying that this week will be “the hardest and saddest” for many Americans.

Those aren’t good things to hear, because the last couple of weeks haven’t come close to cracking my Top 10 Best Weeks of All Time list; the idea of this one being worse isn’t heartening.

Still, if there’s anything to the adage about the darkest hour coming just before the dawn, we all might come through all this by summer.

The big conversation-starter these days is: “What’s the first thing you’re going to do once the lockdown is lifted and it’s (semi) safe to go back to normal?” It’s the Coronavirus Age’s equivalent of the “What would you do if you won $100 million in the lottery?”

That’s easy. I’m gonna do what I usually do when months-old stretches of isolation end: Run out naked into the street and dance like a faun while throwing rose petals in the air.

Then I’ll put on some pants (real pants, not these Oxford gray sweat pants I’ve been wearing for months now) and rush around town to hug my son, and my sister and her kids and her kids’ kids.

I’ve never been a hugger before, but you’re gonna need a Jaws of Life to extricate me from everyone who makes eye contact with me.

Also, I’m an introvert, a nice skill to have during days like these. It’s what I’ve spent decades practicing for. But soon, I’m gonna need a crowd of people around me at all times. Crowded restaurants, crowded clubs, crowded concert halls. Coachella 2021 is going to be the most intimate venue you’re going to find me at.

What else? There’ll be so much to do in the post-isolation days. I’m definitely going to do some globetrotting. My wife and I made it to Italy just in time last year, and we’ve got a lot of pages to fill in our passports. But first, I think I’m just going to go to LGB, enjoy a cocktail in the crowded 4th Street Vine lounge and buy an airplane ticket.

“Where to, sir?”

“I don’t care. Surprise me.”

I’m gonna shop like a billionaire’s trophy wife. And I’ve got plenty to spend. My wife gave me my $100/week allowance a month ago. I just checked my wallet and now there’s $126 in it. I’m making money just sitting here. Plus, I haven’t put gas in my car for a month (though my wife says it’s under $3 a gallon, so I’m not saving as much money as I was when it was $3.25; it keeps going down, I’m gonna go broke).

So shopping, especially for groceries, when the stores are back to their gaudy bazaars of opulence, with rare spices from the East and rich bolts of fabric from Lahore and Karachi.

And I’m going to a ballgame. These days it’s like living in a civilization in which no one’s invented sports. So I’ll be out at the yard, whether it’s to see the Dodgers or the Dirtbags. I wouldn’t even mind an Angels game, though I’d most likely be rooting for the visitors.

But this is all giddy fantasizing. I’m probably lying about many of these things I’m saying I’ll do, just as you were probably lying when you said you’d give $99 million of your lottery winnings to charity and live happily off the remaining $1 mil. And that you wouldn’t quit your job.

But going back to work is definitely one of the things I’m looking forward to the most. Wish me luck — and, as we head into this bad, sad week, wish everyone luck, strength and good health.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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