The Coronavirus Zombies are here.

I just returned from Martin’s, our local grocery, where I saw many of my fellow Virginians, some of them masked, drifting around the store, picking over what remains of the canned goods, casting hopeful glances at the paper goods aisle – nope, still no TP – their eyes dull, mostly speechless, no sign of anything but gloom and doom. A few people were talking and laughing, but overall the place was as cheerful as a mortuary. I tried to brush away some of the black clouds by whistling my way through the store, but my efforts were useless.

I bought a couple of cans of soup, some frozen dinners – Healthy Choice meals were on sale – and hit the streets, mourning the Walking Dead I’d left behind.

Those customers needed some sunshine and laughter (and toilet paper, but that’s another matter.) If you find yourself in the same boat, please read on. Here you’ll find nothing but amusement and nonsense.

I’ll start with an anecdote I heard a while back:            

One morning a mother dashed into the college café she managed, leaving three-year-old Michael and his 18-month-old twin sisters in the van. A friend of hers came over to say hello to the kids. As he reached the car – it was summer and the windows were open – he found the twins wailing away. Michael looked up at him, red-faced with the heat, and calmly remarked, “Welcome to hell.”

Kids, as Art Linkletter once remarked, say the dardnest things.

Now let’s look at the present crisis. 

Because of quarantines and stay-in-place orders, many of you are cooped up in your homes with spouses, children, grandparents, and other relatives all tumbled atop one another like a bin of stuffed animals at the Dollar General. So let’s begin with some observations about family relationships, all of which come from Lawrence Dorfman’s The Snark Handbook: Parenting Edition

Here’s one helpful tip from that most famous of observers, Anonymous: “If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair…because after five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going ‘You know, we’re alright.’”

No state fair? Visit Walmart.

Many mothers may be suffering from drastic changes in routine brought about by stay-in-place orders, but with schools closed, mornings should be less hectic. Here’s what Anonymous had to say about getting the kids ready for school and out the door: “If you have children, the demands made upon you in the first hour of the morning can make the job of air traffic controller seem like a walk in the park.” 

As a parent at home all day with the kids, you may feel as if your children’s questions are driving you around the bend. Fran Lebowitz offers hope by reminding us that “Children ask better questions than adults. ‘May I have a cookie?’ ‘Why is the sky blue?’ and ‘What does a cow say?’ are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than ‘Where’s your manuscript?’ ‘Why haven’t you called?’ and ‘Who’s your lawyer?’”

As for a crowded household, movie star Bob Hope once pointed out the value of many people living under one roof: “I grew up with six brothers. It’s how I learned to dance—waiting for the bathroom.”

Let’s pause here and take a short test, again from The Snark Handbook. Match the sayings below with who is most likely to have said them: Parent or Grandparent. You’ll find the answers at the bottom of this article.

1. You look thin. Can I get you some ice cream?

2.The tooth fairy stopped here as well. He left you ten dollars.

3. I just filled all the candy jars. Help yourself.

4. Your father repeated second grade, too.

5. If you don’t like what’s on your plate, I can make you something else.

For some readers, the coronavirus has undoubtedly wrecked your vacation plans:a March getaway to Florida, a trip abroad, a cruise. Here’s a kid who wanted to go to Disney World:

“A little boy asks his grandfather to make a frog noise. His grandfather tells him he doesn’t want to. The child continues to nag and ask him to make a frog noise. Finally exasperated, he asks his grandson, ‘Why are you so intent on hearing me make a frog noise?’

“‘Because mommy says when you croak, we can go to Disney World.’”            

I’ll finish with a few coronavirus jokes I found online:

“If you need 144 rolls of toilet paper for a 14-day quarantine, you probably should have been seeing a doctor long before COVID-19.” 

“Quarantine Diary, Day 1: I have stocked up on enough non-perishable food items and supplies to last me for months….Day 1 + 45 minutes: I am in the supermarket because I want a Twix.”

For sports fans: “Day 2 without sports: Found a young lady sitting on my couch yesterday. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.”

For the confused: How do we explain to our grandchildren how a guy eating bat soup in China led to a massive toilet paper shortage?

The next generation: “Prediction: There will be a minor baby boom in 9 months, and then one day in 2033, we shall witness the rise of THE QUARANTEENS.” 

Laughter may not be the best medicine – a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19 would beat a belly laugh hands down – but heaven knows we need all the cheer we can get right now. 

God bless America.

(Regarding the quiz: The correct answer for all of the questions is grandparents.)

[Image Credit: Flickr-Donnie Ray Jones, CC BY 2.0]