Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Coronavirus and chill

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I realize I wrote about the COVID-19 coronavirus last time, but contrary to what our president may have suggested, it is not just going away. And if you're like me, you're wearing a fuzzy hooded sweatshirt and just finished a giant bowl of curry.

But, also, if you're like me, then it's impossible for you not to think about the coronavirus, sort of like that terrible "game" game that people used to play 10 or 20 years ago where anyone to remember the game lost. And if you were playing, you just did.

Anyway, one thing about the pressing concern over COVID-19 is that it has helped to give me a new perspective on life where I appreciate things I didn't before. I should clarify, I don't mean that now, in the face of illness and death, I suddenly realize how important my loved ones are and how nice it is to go for a walk. I already realized that.

No, I mean that things I would previously look on as curses, I now look upon as blessings.

The other day, I was walking down the street and smelled a foul, nauseating odor. If this had happened last year, I would have simply said "eww, gross." Admittedly, this year I also still said "eww, gross." But, then I followed it up by realizing, "Hey, I smelled a foul sewage thing; that means I don't have anosmia! Hooray!"

Likewise, two weeks ago I woke up with a clogged throat, went to the bathroom to clear it and noticed I was coughing up blood. This, understandably, caused me a modicum of concern.

Then I realized that I had a bloody nose, so I immediately went to Google to confirm it wasn't a coronavirus symptom. At which point I said, "Hooray, I have a bloody nose!" That's a sentence I wouldn't have uttered unironically last year.

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I am trying to take these small victories where I can get them, as with the number of cases exponentially increasing — and with Pittsfield now possibly one of the world's top 10 hot spots for coronavirus — more and more people we know are likely to contract the virus, as are we. This has strengthened my resolve to stay at home and encourage others to do the same, to try not to transmit the disease to anyone else (or catch it from them).

I realize I am fortunate enough to have a job I can do from home, but with more workplaces either making accommodations or being ordered to close, I think most of us in nonessential roles will, hopefully, be able to largely self-quarantine, as we should.

And I realized I may be biased, as an introvert with no friends, but staying at home is really not so bad. While the grocery shelves are still patchy and low on sanitizer, I think we can probably avoid outright panic as long as we have food and the internet. I know that's basically how I feel, even if I feel a sharp spike of panic whenever the internet hiccups, which far outweighs the panic I feel when I cough.

Some friends of mine shared the fact that when Shakespeare was in quarantine he wrote "King Lear," and are using this as motivation/compulsion to be incredibly productive during this staying at home.

But, the way I see it, staying at home to slow the infection rate of a global pandemic is being productive. You are putting in effort, to better the lives of others and yourself. That's more productive than most jobs.

So, rather than emulate Shakespeare, I've decided to emulate Shakesbear, the bear that drinks milkshakes. Bears know that staying at home doesn't mean you have to write the next great play. It means you curl up for a few months, get plenty of sleep to boost your immune system, eat all the food you've cached away for just such an occasion and, above all, don't feel compelled to go do things.

After all, a good way to avoid coronavirus is to avoid aspiration.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and reminds you to avoid people and help flatten the curve. His website is


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