John Carlson: Coronavirus Confusion

It turns out not touching your face is easier said than done. Photo by: Nancy CarlsonIt turns out not touching your face is easier said than done. Photo by: Nancy Carlson

By: John Carlson—

As an old person who is easily confused, there are many things I do not understand about the coronavirus.

For example, in my whole life, I have never been a face-toucher. Oh sure, for a while there as a teenager, I was a more-or-less constant pimple popper. But other than that, as far as I can recall, I have gone entire years at a stretch without touching my face.

But now that they tell you, “Do not touch your face!” all I want to do is touch my face. It’s like, touching my face is suddenly my life’s ultimate goal. It’s what I live for. But then I remember that way smarter people than I am say touching your face may kill you, so I yell at myself, “Quit touching your face!”

Sometimes, for emphasis, I even add, “Dimwit!”

Why do I do this? It’s not because my face is so great I need to keep reassuring myself it’s still there. It’s just that they say not to do so.

By “they,” I mean Dr. Fauci.

Now I, for one, think Dr. Fauci is a very wise man dedicated to keeping people in charge of the earth, as opposed to us turning over the keys to monkeys, crabs and cockroaches. We’d be in a world of hurt without his expert guidance. However, I also realize if he had only gone on TV and demanded, “EVERYBODY MAKE SURE YOU TOUCH YOUR FACE ALL OF THE TIME!” I would probably never touch my face.

That’s human nature.

This is just one confounding aspect of life I have experienced since COVID-19’s poop hit the fan, so to speak.

Another one is coronavirus grocery lists. We, and by “we” I mean Nancy, have a hard, fast rule: While I must stay inside the house so I won’t croak due to certain murky health factors only she knows about, she does our shopping. This happens once a week. No less, but also no more. Consequently, for seven days she leaves some paper and a pencil on our kitchen counter for me to add my most coveted items – anything my greedy little heart desires – to our grocery list. Inevitably, I fail to do this, probably because I am way too busy these days drinking vodka and watching game shows. But as crunch time nears, I frantically begin wracking my brain for things to fulfill my most perverted grocery fantasies. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, I can never think of anything. So by the time Nancy heads out the door, here is an example of everything I have written on my fantasy grocery list.


Returning home an hour later, she tosses me my radishes and, suddenly, the depth of my failure hits me.

Why didn’t I think to mention microwave French fries, both crinkle-cut AND regular? More little chocolate donuts? A bag of those tiny Snickers bars and some Hostess Sno Balls? Medium-hot salsa, sour cream and corn chips? You know, the little scoopy ones? Deli baked beans, turkey jerky, blue-cheese stuffed olives, onion bagels, chocolate-covered cherries, Twizzlers, a bunch of Slim Jim meat sticks and a dozen assorted Oscar Mayer Lunchables complete with Reese’s Cups and juice packets?

Seeing my stricken look, Nancy says, “What?”

“At least tell me you bought me some pickled herring?”

“You’ve never asked for pickled herring in your whole life!”

“Well I wanted some today, woman!”

So then I end up in an emotional funk, ruefully waiting a whole week to sate my most carnal culinary desires, but by the time Nancy is making her next trip to the grocery store, all I’ve written down on my list is “radishes.”

Another confusing thing regarding coronavirus is, you hear a lot about “testing.” Sure, at first what the medical folks want to know seems simple enough. Is your breathing labored? Do you have a temperature? Do you have a dry cough? But then because you are old, confused and easily intimidated, you stare in horror at television footage of a nurse going up a test subject’s nose with a Q-tip the size of a toilet plunger. The nurse pushes it way up the inside of the subject’s face until she spots the fuzzy end inching past his eyeballs. Then she keeps pushing and pushing until the tip makes a poke mark from underneath the skin covering the top of his head.

Watch this a few times and you start thinking, “Wait a minute! What else are they gonna do if I’m tested?  Make me turn my head and cough with somebody’s fingers stabbing my junk?” Because no matter how old a guy is, he never gets used to that. Well, maybe some guys get used to that. Very weird guys.

And be truthful, ladies. Secretly, you love it when they do that to us. It’s like payback to guys for helping invent mammograms.

But nope. That’s not checking for COVID-19. It’s checking for hernias.

Still, as confusing as all this gets, you eventually come to realize the key to getting through the pandemic is really pretty simple. You just man up, look confidently to a brighter future and take that first step, hand-in-hand with the one you love.

Plus, of course, have Jason at Guardian Brewing Co. deliver some beers to your house, and cram your fridge with all the microwave mashed potatoes – God’s own official comfort food – it will possibly hold.



John’s weekly columns are sponsored by Beasley & Gilkison, Muncie’s trusted attorneys for over 120 years.

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A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.  John’s columns appear on every Friday.