Quote of the Week:
I opened a fortune cookie once and it had a line from Sun Tzu, ‘pretend inferiority and encourage arrogance in your opponent’. You don’t think Covid-19 eats fortune cookies? All that time it spent in China? Trust me. Don’t lull yourself into a false security or you’ll realize your head is resting against the curb with Covid ready to stomp.Cyrus Lee Hancock, Hurricane Survivalist
“All I see on the news is people protesting their right to go back to work; control their own social gatherings…” John Chardonnay has ceased the swing of his hammock and is attempting to climb out, spilling whiskey across his oversized knuckles. “My take!” He plants a foot onto the earth to still the world. “My take is we are all competing in a marathon and we are at mile marker 12. We’ve only just begun and have to push through, not bloody-well let-up! I feel nothing but trepidation and doom if we let-up our current constraints. We can’t change streams mid-strategy…” He thinks about it. “Or rather, we can’t change strategy mid-stream. Anyway, back to bourbon, damn it.”
“Yeah.” I nod. “So, hey John, I was wondering if I could borrow the hedge trimmers.”
My neighbor rises from the hammock. He’s a big dude and a grand shadow is cast. “The kids are calling the virus ‘Miss Rona’, like it’s an uninvited auntie. A sneaky, deathly, auntie… Wobbegong. You hear of it?”
“No, no… no. Damn wobbegong; camouflaged shark… just sits there waiting…” He grabs a walnut from a waiting bowl. He continues, “Waiting for you to think your safe…” John closes his eyes. “Shh… shh…”
Perhaps I should trim the hedges next weekend. John appears to be standing asleep and I do not want to be in his shadow when he falls.
“Snap!” John’s eyes spring open and the walnut has been crushed within his fist. “Wobbegong snatches you by the gills and you’re a goner, mate.”
“Tell you what, I’ll come back tomorrow.”
Last Nail in the Coughin’
“Holy smokes!” Norman Foldwell feigns surprise at seeing me. He’s five-foot nothing with scarves covering most of his face and neck despite the 90 degree heat. He’s carrying a protest sign, “Your Business IS my…” and then the text runs out of space and he has to shorten the last word in his message to, “biznes”. What are the odds, he is giggling like a Gen-Z hyena, pointing at the strip mall. “You are against illegal nail salons too?”
Let me explain. Norman Foldwell, or Strange Norm, as I call him, is this nineteen year-old kid I met at paranoid camp. We therapied together and now he politely stalks me. He isn’t dangerous; only annoying. I should also explain I typically wouldn’t spend my daylight in front of a bootleg nail salon wearing a bandana across my face while holding a protest sign, “Your Vanity Means Death to My Grandmother!” For one: my grandmothers all expired in a prior century. For two: while I am not in favor of nail salons secretly opening against the local “essential business” restrictions, I’ve better things to do than guilt women trying to get their phalanges maintained during the coronavirus. But while I might not give a flying fuck, Josefina gives a whole flock of aflutter fucks; therefore, here we are at Hammertime Nailz, protesting the prohibited practice.
“They arrested Fauci, did you hear?” Strange Norm is asking. “For funneling money to Wuhan!”
A woman with fresh acrylic on her fingers walks out of the salon without the slightest thread of a mask. Josefina Jesús-María is livid. Jo has two masks on as she confronts the woman, yelling, somewhat muffled, “I hope it was worth it! I hope you understand how everything you touch will turn to shit because of your careless vanity!” The woman is hurrying to her car, but mentions it is her right. Josefina disagrees, “You’re a walking biohazard!”
The infidel has driven off. Josefina turns towards me with a sardonic glean in her eyes, “I bet she hasn’t gone to a dentist in years, but that bitch gets her nails did once a week.” She looks in the direction of the salon, shaking her head. “If I so much as hear a cough from inside the salon, I am going to burn this motherfucker down.” Of course, “burn this motherfucker down” in Jo-speak means she is going to write a very scathing review on Yelp… which given her social networking clout, might as well be arson.
Strange Norm elbows me as we both watch Jo’s soapbox. “Hey, guess what…” Strange Norm says with a wide grin of pride. “I’m now dating a Mexican girl too.”
A Pinch of Uncertain Thyme…
“The President of these United States mentioned sunlight and disinfectant could go a long way in killing the virus.” Doc Kelly tells me via video-conference, “Which gave me the idea for a cocktail.”
I am cautious. Is there any hydroxychloroquine or bleach involved?
“I’m not cleaning the pool, man. I’m cleansing the soul. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I say the way to a man’s soul is through his nasal passages.” What, cocaine? “No, ho-ho, good buddy. I am not talking Tampa Bay Dance Powder. This is all over-the-counter soul-lifter. This cocktail will clean-out your sinuses so quick your ears will pop.”
Doc Kelly’s Wuhan Mule
2 ounces of Yellow Rose Texas Vodka
3 ounces of Root of All Evil Ginger Beer
Teaspoon of ground Sichuan Peppercorn
A Pinch of Uncertain Thyme
(Doc winks as he holds up the herb. “Get it? These uncertain times we live in?”)
Lime glazed with Vapo-Rub to garnish
“Salud, amigo!” Doc lifts his cup towards the camera. “To our health.”
Defending the Home Front
“Are you prepared for when this shit goes sideways, bro?” Cyrus Lee Hancock texts me from his bunker outside Nashville; following his words is an emoji resembling a pile of shit. He is content in his Tennessean fortress where he’s trained his immune-system for Covid-19 by eating old flu strains for breakfast and sweating it out in his sauna before lunch. But, it isn’t the pandemic virus he is concerned with as much as the fall of society. He sends an audio message, “Georgia is the petri-dish, right? They’re experimenting by opening their bowling alleys and tattoo parlors. When infections spike in Georgia – and they will – we can’t overreact and nuke Macon, napalm I-75 and roll-out the National Guard to close the borders. We can’t shut everything down again; we need to fucking deal with it, bro. Ride it out, not hide inside. Always remember the dollar is barely enough to wipe your ass with if we lose faith in it as a bartering tool. And when hysteria prevails, as it always does, faith in the dollar, in the economy, in the government will collapse. So are you prepared?”
I take stock of my private arsenal. I have hatchets, a machete, a couple hammers, a set of steak knives, three tennis rackets and a hedge trimmer borrowed from my neighbor.
“More claymore and less housewife.” is Cyrus Lee’s texted advice. “Although a leaf-blower would help if some infected asshole rolls up on your lawn; blow that flu-snot back up his nose hole.”
He calls later in the week. I can hear cognac on his voice and crackling fire in the background. “Don’t forget what happened in o’four.” He’s referring to the 2004 hurricane season in Florida, back before he relocated to Tennessee. “After Charley blew through town, the jackals came out. Riding in on their four-wheelers and airboats, those catfish-noodling, cousin-fucking, river-pirates from the backwaters stormed-into the suburban idyllic neighborhoods around Oviedo, cut our generators, snatched our jewelry and ran-off with our dogs and women.” I laugh, though I know he’s serious. “I’m not shitting, bro. I have no idea what happened to my wife. In the hours after the hurricane, I left home to check on my girlfriend to make sure she was alright and by the time I got back, my door was smashed in, my booze was jacked, medicine cabinet raided, hubcaps pried off the Corvette and Mrs. Hancock had disappeared. I know it was unwillingly as her 16,000 shoes were still alphabetized by designer in her walk-in closet. A few days later, they tried ransoming my wife back to me in exchange for a hundred bucks and a few steaks, but at that point my girlfriend had already moved-in and I was like, ‘new number, who dis?’”
Moral of the story?
“What the fuck do you think?” Cyrus Lee asks back. “Moral of the story is those bog-people are still living off the Florida backwaters, hunting pig and gigging frog, cooking meth and selling fireworks off the highway. If society crumbles, you can expect not only them, but jackals from every walk of life to sweep in and steal away with the homecoming queen. Protect what’s yours, bro.”
What’s Vic Drinking?
After bartering my hedge-trimming services for a wheel-barrow full of grapefruit, we’re making Brown Derbys out of grapefruit juice, assorted bitterness and Irish whiskey.