Remember that game we played when we were kids? The teacher – Mrs. Pace, in my case, the sadistic long term sub who absolutely hated children, but had a penchant for inciting drama among them – would play some little song on the piano with this wide-eyed crooked smile on her face as her gaze darted around at each child in the room. She knew – she made it her job to know – which of us was weak, which of us embarrassed the others, which of us the rest of the herd wanted picked off and eaten so as to increase their strength, power, and pride. So, we, her “little munchkins,” marched dutifully around that tottering circle of cheap wooden chairs – some kids brimming with confidence and glee, some with that straight-ahead gaze of obedience, and some with fear and trepidation betrayed always by the sweaty little paw prints they left behind.
Maybe you did not have a Mrs. Pace. But you do know the drill, I’m sure?
There’d be 16 or so of us, but only 15 chairs. When the music stopped, you had to be lucky enough (or conniving enough – I’m looking at you, Laurel Ladds!) to have a chair right behind you so that all you had to do was propel your little kid ass so forcefully down onto that seat so that you and only you could claim it as your own, at which point you could then look up and smile victoriously at the one little loser child still standing, forlorn and forsaken, as she is thrown out of the game.
It occurred to me that this pandemic – not to be too lighthearted about this whole thing, y’all, but if you’re anything like me, I know you could use a laugh right about now – this pandemic is kind of like that sadistic Mrs. Pace from 5th grade. I mean, there we all were, wandering about, some importantly with heads held high, some Happily as voluminously documented on their socials, some vacantly like lost little automatons, and then BOOM!
The Microbe did a Mic Drop.
Suddenly, the music – or, you know, the whole fucking world – stops on a dime. Everyone races tout suite to secure their adult bums down on their adult chairs – to shelter in place with their partner, their kids, their matching cookware, and the newest member of their happy family, the rescue puppy.
Me? Well, I happen to be (ahem, again) the gape-mouthed girl standing there looking around, like, “Wait… wait… wait!! Oh shit, I don’t have a chair! Noooo! It’s happening again!”
I may as well have a big f’n L on my forehead. Remember back around that same age, the bully type kids in the class would corner you if you were doing something too dorky and they’d put their hand up to their forehead in the shape of a big “L” and glare at you until you knew you were the biggest loser the whole school – the whole universe – had ever seen, and so quickly shrank back to the very smallest version of yourself you could muster? (An aside: back then, when I was trying to act cool and would try out that “L” gesture on a friend, just to be in on the joke you know, I somehow always managed to put the wrong hand to my forehead so I had nothing but a big backwards “L” projected to the world… which was kinda perfect, now that I think about it – it’s like it was clear that even I had to admit that I needed the label facing in, not out. The friend would always just laugh then and roll her eyes and prettily mouth the words, “You loser!”).
Welp. Here I am again. The music suddenly up and stopped, and I.Am.Alone. Some of us didn’t seem to get the memo. (MAKE SURE WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS YOU’VE GOT A CHAIR TO SIT DOWN ON!). Make sure you partner up so that when the world screeches to a halt you won’t be in your apartment with your cat bingeing that show “Married” choking to death either on the burnt microwave popcorn kernel or on the irony, but either way with grease running down your chin.
I know. I know. I can imagine what you are thinking: “You are an abhorrent person, Pollyanna Savage. Did you not tear your gaze away from your navel to read the news this past month? This is serious business. People are sick. People are dying. People are losing their livelihoods. People are losing their entire savings. People are losing their minds. People are stuck in houses with abusive partners. Parents are overnight now in charge of not only full time childcare and playing teacher for all subjects and all grades for all their kids, but, oh, also trying to keep their jobs while #wfh and hoping the internet doesn’t actually break. And don’t get me started about the tireless grocery workers and pharmacists and delivery folks putting themselves at risk day after day, and the frontline doctors and nurses who are so out of supplies they’re essentially relying on bake sales and Etsy folk to send them crapshoot cotton masks to try to save their lives while they work grueling hours to save everyone else’s lives every single day. So, Pollyanna, what do you have to say about that?”
Hmm, <insert embarrassed face emoji>, I guess what I have to say about that is: SNAP!
Thank you, Dear Reader. Now, that is what they call a
<insert ghost emoji>
Post Script: Mrs. Pace just popped in, a little glint in her eyes; listen up, she wants to let the whole class know, “Ms. Savage has left the building. Musicless, partnerless, childless, heartless, useless, and without a chair to be found.”
“Wait, Class, what is that on her forehead? My, my! Ms. Savage has a large L on her forehead. What’s that Laurel Ladds? Yes, you are correct, you little munchkin: Ms. Savage’s L is on backwards.”