Are there Layers of Meaning in Today’s Ocean of Fear that belie a Bright Spot hidden Beneath?
If you are, like me, someone who reads articles on your phone or iPad, you probably noticed that the news cycle has turned to 24/7 coronavirus coverage. And why not? There are dangers to be warned of, statistics changing hour by hour and, inadvertently or surreptitiously, products to be hawked and sold.
“Forewarned is Forearmed” goes the saying and prevention sounds fine, to whatever degree possible. Wash your hands, stay 6ft feet away, stock up on paper and water (?), stop traveling, etc etc. We seem to be taking these admonitions to heart.
However, if you are like me, you are also wondering if the deluge of articles and advice are not somehow toxic in and of themselves. Are you feeling exhausted after reading a hundred or so? And can’t being exhausted and fearful promote infection in an otherwise healthy host?
Fear and Prepping in Las Vegas: a Gonzo Silver Linings Playbook
In the city that lives on Trade Shows and Tourists what does it look like in the moments just prior to the pandemic finally receiving its rightful moniker? If you browse the news you’ve seen the headlines, everything is preparing to be cancelled, from movies to concerts to sporting events and so on. Not to mention meetings and events from the two-point-five trillion dollar trade show industry.
Apparently, this is based on the assumption, possibly correct, that at some point, the entire world will look like China, where the streets are empty and 46 million people are quarantined. Really? Is that even possible?
Today in Vegas I had a foretaste of what we could be headed for. Walmart – panic buying à la mode with empty shelves and all the usual scenes of confused people doing what first instinct dictates after ingesting the news.
But beyond hunkering down what else is happening? Well, deals for travel and especially casinos are starting to emerge, big time. Your fearless scribe has hunkered down in a corner luxury suite for a modest “resort fee” of $38 per night. Next I will brave the wilds of the LV night to gain insight into the current state of preparedness on the monorail and throughout the dangerous casino floors…
Near the Walmart a man stood next to his bike, which was made for a child with tiny wheels, dressed in rainbow colors and looking around 40, an assessment perhaps tainted by the bike and the outfit. As I attempted to look busy and walk by anonymously, he suddenly perked up and, apropos of nothing, gushed, “I have to brag, as a photographer, this is really fantastic!”. As the only person within earshot, I felt compelled to respond and, as he rapidly approached, holding up his iPhone 6s and pointing it into my face. “Wow, nice, clouds can be amazing” I stammered looking at the admittedly decent cloud shot that he was so enthused about.
POV Reactions to the New Normal LV Strip-style on a Saturday Night
This, of course, was his cue to jump into a “conversation” which went forward too fast and too deep for my trying-to-keep-walking-anonymously plan. “I was in Vegas a long time but then my girlfriend had a baby” he machine-gunned at me, “then she said we had to move to Des Moines”. “Des Moines, Des Moines, that’s the only option”, I sensed a dive even deeper into the OCD rant was coming, “Baby looked exactly like the Gerber baby, ya know, so I had to go”. As he spoke we were dancing. I had read, like you, that 6ft was the requisite distance for safety nowadays, so as he continually leaned in, I kept backing up, ending up an average 4ft as he kept leaning and I kept backpedaling.
“He doesn’t seem sick, I thought, as I scanned his clothes for signs of homelessness or disease, “maybe he’s just a harmless nut” I thought as I danced the 6ft dance. Struggling for a fitting rejoinder for this situation, something bland that wouldn’t encourage him to get deeper into his Gerber baby, Iowa adventure with his mommy girlfriend story, “Iowa’s an interesting place too” I said as blandly as possible, thinking of the summer I spent in Fort Dodge (not very interesting in reality).
His close-talker persistence got more intense, leaning in aggressively for the coup de grace, “You know what they told me that Iowa means?” Me: leaning about 3.5 feet away, him: leaning into my face as best he could, “Idiots Outside Walking Around” was the inevitable punchline, as he smiled a satisfied Cheshire Cat smile.
As subtly as possible I turned, also smiling weakly, saying “yea, I can image, and have a good one, buddy”.
As I walked away from him toward the monorail station I wondered how I would learn to maintain a 6ft distance at all times from now on? Was that even possible? And if he sneezed at me from 4.5 feet? How can I forget now about the Gerber baby in Des Moines?
Blissfully isolated on the escalator up to the tram, I enjoyed the fresh, presumably clean air, and wondered about health and sanity. I could almost imagine normalcy as I prepared myself mentally for the journey back to my $38 luxury penthouse. On the platform there was a gaggle of typical party-style-revelers, and, to my delight, they all appeared to be 18-22 years of age. In my “research” I had seen the statistics, speculation perhaps, that young people and children were unlikely candidates for Coronavirus fatality, although they could still conceivably be carriers…
Seeing their obvious health and high energy antics was somehow a sudden, stark reminder that we all really want to survive for a reason. To live life itself.
Looking out toward the same beautiful watercolor, golden hour sunset sky I had enjoyed earlier in the Gerber-baby-daddy’s photo, I inhaled deeply, felt the balmy Las Vegas 72° evening air and came upon a comforting thought; Oh, sweet resilience, your name is golden.