Dear Editor,

Fogey ol’ Noreen here. Long-time reader, first-time computer-user. Hale and healthful and still bristling brio from my basement brimming with delicious preserves that I canned and stockpiled during the Cold War. I do declare, few confections taste as savoury as decades-old apricots garnished with the comforting capers that you’re sticking it to Khrushchev somehow with every bite.

Turbulent times afoot. Yet I frolic and squeal with anti-social glee when I hear a pandemic looms. It reinforces and affirms my lifestyle choices for the last half-century. Namely the wholesale hoarding and all-around distaste for reason. Long have I been waging an epic battle with germs and they finally have me in their crosshairs. But I’m still bobbing and weaving through the epidemiological barbwire, I am. Off the grid and just hunky-dory hunkered down here. I didn’t strangle that Census worker with an old D-Day parachute on my lawn just to have a goddamn microbe be my ultimate demise.

Give it your best shot, COVID-19. You too, MS-13. All you confusing acronyms are the same to me. My home is a veritable Thermopylae of impregnability. Good luck navigating the complex system of moats and medieval pikes I fashioned from barrels of Ensure powdered milk and the upturned legs of my many prescription walkers respectively. Like my once calcium-deficient bones, this place is fortified. Balls in your court, you piñata-looking virus. I pace the ramparts of my DSM-5-recognized mania with utmost vigilance. Like a Norse berserker febrile on shrooms, mead, and beard-having, I beat my chest and implore the Valkyries above, “Come at me, mortal coil!” I then snort crushed up Flintstones vitamins and flail my social-isolation proximity pool noodle like a rusty battle-axe. Desperta Ferres! Or foam, rather.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is beseeching the elderly to refrain from wandering out too much. Which is just as well as my driver’s license was revoked many years ago. Due to cataracts, I just barely failed the eye test. Also, I was hitting too many utility poles at high speeds. In addition, it’s not my fault all the best parking spots are conveniently on the freeway. So I’ll be making the conscientious and socially responsible decision to stay put for the time being. Plus I’m too terrified of my bacteria-addled doorknob to leave the house anyway.

My caretaker and I are taking all the necessary precautions and are maintaining a safe and reasonable distance from one another. We’ve rigged together a tiny trebuchet to fling medication into my mouth from across the room and all meals and AARP magazines are conveyed to me via a simple apparatus of triple-mittens, fishing rods, and salad tongs. We’ve also just taken to boiling pages of the bible and wringing out and using the sacred secretion as hand-sanitizer. It’s ecclesiastically effective.

Panic ensues and there’s blood on the streets. And my self-imposed maroonment in my poorly ventilated basement has me woozy and dreaming of a different kind of contagious mob mentality. One where hordes dash to libraries to avariciously loot books by the armful. Or get into vicious fist fights at Lowe’s over the last shovel to volunteer to plant squash in their community gardens. A brazen outbreak of generosity and compassion. Optimism abounds. And throughout we’re just downright disoriented from the abundance of verifiable comfort-mongering news available online and spread word-of-mouth. Throngs of people practicing good information hygiene along with their compulsive hand washing. This is the type of end of days I can welcome. This is a rapture that I would rapturously find refreshing and hope to receive.

So don’t worry about me, CDC. You just continue your diligent efforts to flatten the curve with your rolling pin of common sense, prompt response, and swift outpouring of resources and services to those most vulnerable. I’ll remain here in Westchester. Getting alarmingly good at shooting out the tires of the Meals on Wheels van that keeps trying to deliver lukewarm chalupas to my stoop. I’ll concede, they’re tenacious and undeterrable. Yesterday I fashioned a crude IED using an adult diaper filled with talcum powder and old-lady peppermint candy. It was a hearing aid recalibrating kablooey that left a most pleasing winter-y aroma free of any moisture.

Overly Ovaltine-ed and Quaintly Quarantined,

Noreen “Distrustful yet still easily scammed” Petrichor,

Westchester Crank

(Notes from Noreen arrive occasionally in the editor’s inbox. She may be fictional, but nobody’s perfect.)

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