Summer of no fun

May 21, 2020 by

Published in the May 21, 2020 edition.



Now the real panic has begun.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s re-opening plan, as timid as it is, has lockdown enthusiasts grasping at straws to stem the trickle (one can hardly call it a tide) of normalcy returning to the Bay State.

Back in mid-March, it never occurred to anyone that this economic shutdown would go on for nine long weeks (and counting). Two or three weeks, maybe a month was the unspoken assumption. Some people even bought into it — mainly those who could “work from home” or were otherwise still collecting a paycheck.

But after about 30 days, the novelty began to wear off and cold, hard reality began to sink in. Fun’s fun, but national economic suicide is not a sustainable model, which is why it had never been done anywhere, for any reason, in the history of human civilization.

So, the natives started getting restless. This restlessness coincided with the warmer temperatures, longer days and general optimism that accompanies springtime. Also, as the weather warmed, infections and deaths from the respiratory virus began to decline. Who could have predicted such a thing?

There used to be a saying, “It’s a free country.” You haven’t heard that said much in the last couple of months. Millions of people haven’t been free to go to work. Millions of small businesses haven’t been free to open. Meanwhile, if you talk about that, you’re dismissed on social media as one of those “yahoos” who’s obsessed with concepts like “freedom” and “rights.”

Who put such ideas the heads of Americans?

Now the weather is getting warmer and summer will soon be here. But what does that mean? Everything has been canceled. Shows, concerts, sports. Boston canceled everything until Labor Day. So, those restaurants and bars that depend heavily on concertgoers, theatergoers and sports fans — and haven’t been killed off already — will be gone by September.

Sure, there’s talk of starting the Major League Baseball season with nobody in the stands. At least we’ll be able to watch on TV. I can’t wait to see a pitcher wind up and deliver a 90-mph fastball followed by the familiar crack of the bat as the ball sails over the fence – in dead silence.

But even that will be an improvement over our current national pastime: berating neighborhood kids for riding their bikes without a mask, or ratting out fellow citizens for deciding that walking the Lake is preferable to climbing the walls at home.

Meanwhile, you still can’t get your hair cut because the same people who lecture us that no human being is illegal are now in charge of deciding which human beings are nonessential, and that includes barbers and hairdressers.

We hear a lot these days about the “new normal.” That’s an oxymoron. Something that’s new by definition has not achieved the status of normalcy. Besides, most people preferred the old normal, which included full employment, prosperity and individual liberty. Sadly, not everyone is rooting for those things.

Some day, when all this is over, the people still calling for shutdown-without-end will eventually venture downtown and wonder why half the storefronts in the Square are empty.

And I’ll be right there to remind them.

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