On a walk around the block the other day, I saw a man in his front yard, tossing a little kid in the air for fun. Aww!
Of course, there’s a small chance he was trying to offer his firstborn up to the Sun God as a sacrifice to see if that works to free us from the virus, but nah — it was overcast.
No, this is nice: people in the front yard, hanging out, playing, waving to passersby!
Does the virus spread from waving, though? Probably not, but could a waver be, like, pushing it through the air at a faster rate? Good thing I was wearing a motorcycle helmet with my neck covered in plastic cling wrap.
On the way back, the family was still outside, sitting in their front-lawn chairs, basking in the sun, and ...
Hold on a minute. People are actually sitting in the front-lawn chairs now.
The chairs aren’t new. The sitting is. You know what I mean, right? At some point in the past few years homeowners decided two things: Winter decorations should include a few small birch logs, and front lawns should have chairs, preferably the Adirondack style. I wanted to counteract the cliché by putting massive birch logs on the lawn and small Adirondack chairs in the pots, but Wife said no.
The chairs are always picturesque, but you never saw anyone sitting in them. A few years ago, we had an exchange student who asked about all the empty chairs on the front lawns, and I was tempted to say they were a tradition among our people. One chair for every person who had died in that house. On the Swedish version of the Day of the Dead, we put out lutefisk on the chair for the departed souls. In the morning if it’s still there, the soul is in heaven, where there is no need of lutefisk; if it’s gone, then the person is not only in hell, but they’re handling the catering operation.
I decided against telling this fib, especially because one of the neighbors has five chairs out front, and the exchange student might wonder what had gone on in that place.
As the weather warms, and you walk around the neighborhood in the evening, you’ll see more people out in their Adirondack chairs, thinking:
A) It’s a pity it took a pandemic to get me outside where I can connect with the neighbors and the simple pleasure of the human parade. All these dogs! All these kids! It’s like I forgot that the world is the original streaming service. And ...
B) How do I get out of this stupid chair? It’s like I’m sitting in an enormous bucket with my knees level with my chest.
In retrospect, we’ll chart the distinct phases of the Covidian Situation.
First stage: Why is there hand sanitizer in the office? Oh, right, whatever, LOL, like that’s going to be a big deal here.
Second stage: Blocking someone’s cart at Target so you can get to the last roll of toilet paper, pretending you didn’t, knowing you did, telling your conscience to just hush now, we’ll talk about this later.
Third stage: depression, isolation, bread-baking, “Tiger King.”
Last stage: People going outside to sit in the chairs.
Will we go back to the old ways when the crisis has passed? We’ll know in December. If there are no more birch logs, it will be a clear sign that the new normal is here for good.