This column was supposed to have been written last Saturday. Oddly enough, it ended up being put on the back-burner for some of the reasons I will be writing about.
As I have mentioned several times, the stay-at-home/shutdown/quarantine thing hasn’t really disrupted my daily routine. I work at home writing all day and don’t get out a lot because I am so busy, a fact of my life for which I am always grateful. What most people call “social-distancing” I call “Thursday.”
Although much has remained unchanged for me, I’ve begun to notice some fundamental changes in attitude that I think I want to stick around after we emerge from this mess. Not just my attitude, but the attitudes of friends and relatives.
Of course, I wish that people didn’t have to endure an onslaught of tragic circumstances in order to see a slight improvement in our behavior, but that is really how humanity rolls. We need massively shared grief and/or hardship to find some good in ourselves that was lurking near the surface and easily accessible.
I will have to admit that the whole “everybody checking on each other” thing was weird and uncomfortable for me because I associate wellness checks like that with the two crappiest times of my life. Yes, both had to do with a woman. You’re why I drink, ladies. It was just reflexive for me to have emotional flashbacks to The Dark Days when people who I rarely talk to on the phone would call and ask how I was.
That, I have to admit, is growing on me. I managed to work through my unhealthy memory association issues and respond to inquiries about my emotional well-being with “I’m well, thank you,” rather than “Why? What have you heard?!?”
Contrary to what my carefully-crafted public image would have you believe, I don’t actually dislike all people. I have relatives and friends who I am quite fond of and hearing from them more frequently has become a bit of a routine.
This most amazing component to all of this checking up is that I have been returning the favor. I am rather egocentric and have a difficult time noticing, well, anyone who isn’t me. Now I find myself being diligent about checking in on others, whether via telephone or online. It’s all rather off-brand for me, and I fear that being too human could ruin my career. I mean, let’s be honest, no one shows up here hoping to see a cuddly Stephen Kruiser.
The online social times have been more fun than I would have imagined. There’s beer, there’s not showering, and there are friends, all things I like to varying degrees (beer wins and you’d be surprised how hard my friends have to fight to beat “not showering” for second place).
Again, this is something that we all could have been doing for years now but needed to be forced to stay at home to figure it out. In the post-shutdown world I would like to continue hanging out this way. Maybe not as early as I have been — breakfast beer is a thing, boys and girls — but there is a circle of scattered friends who I have greatly enjoyed spending some online time with this past month. We used to see each other several times a year at conferences during the Tea Party heyday but can go years without being in the same part of the country now.
Yes, I miss bars. I mentioned in a column a couple of weeks ago that I might just walk into a bar and never leave. I like to go to bars to write, however. There isn’t a lot of bar hangout time with friends going on here. My ideal situation would be setting up in a bar by myself here while I Zoom with friends around the country on my computer. Yeah, going to the bathroom would be awkward, but also a bonding moment for all concerned.
I would like to see legislation passed after we emerge from this pandemic that outlaws use of the word “amid.” Does no one in a news room know how to use a thesaurus anymore?
It would be really nice if we were more careful about hugging in the future. Some time in the last thirty years, America got very hug-happy. Not gonna lie, it creeped me out when it first began. There are even times when I’ve caught myself initiating a hug and the self-loathing I wrestle with for the next several days is quite uncomfortable.
You know who can’t hug?
People who are getting together online.
I think I’ve found my new home.
PJ Media Senior Columnist and Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.” His columns appear every Tuesday and Friday.