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Rick's List — Hypochondriac's Super Bowl Edition, part II

I've been writing this column every week for years now. Its purpose is to amuse, which is perhaps a flawed concept — at least according to the tenor of certain testimonials from readers:

1. "You're not funny."

2. "I don't understand."

3. "Not funny, but this IS the first time I've ever seen Plotinus and George Jetson in the same sentence."

There are occasionally positive comments:

4. "You crack me up, son."

No, that last one was not from my mom, but rather the great director Ingmar Bergman, who then added, "Wish you'd been around when I was writing 'Winter Light.' We coulda used some of what we in the brooding Swedish film community like to call 'Guffaw Time.'"

Now, to me, what's even funnier about that is when you consider that "guffaw" in Swedish is "gapskratt" — which is the word Bergman used — and is pronounced in that harsh, guttural Scandinavian way that works particularly well if you make brooding films for a living.

Anyway, the point is, humor is subjective. For example, what I think is funny IS funny, and YOU — wait ... I'm not sure that's how I wanted to phrase that.

Let's try again: The Bossman here at The Day, well aware of my raging hypochondria, and knowing three weeks ago I was traveling for several days just the nation started to realize the seriousness of the coronavirus, suggested I write about my "on the road" experiences as one who goes Full Panic at the sound of a cough. I intro'd that concept last week, and this column thus completes a two-part examination of what I like to call "Hypochondria in the Time of Cholera." (Don't make me explain that.)

Here are notes from our trip:

1. Green Airport in Providence was eerily empty on a Saturday morning. My wife Eileen, in a calming voice, said, "Now don't make too much of this." Uncharacteristically, I said, "Are you kidding? Look: There's no line at Johnny Rockets!"

2. The jet from DC to Dallas was barely half-full. I was back in Fright Mode and tried Mindful Meditation to relax. But those little colorful, dust-mote constellations we all get behind our closed eyelids? They all seemed to form into that now-recognizable shape of the COVID-19 virus. "Aren't we pretty, Rick?" it seemed to whisper.

3. Eileen's parents live in a retirement apartment community; not the best situation. Still, I went door to door, saying to their elderly neighbors, "Have you seen any germs?" and "I hope you didn't answer the door if you're going to infect me."

4. We flew to Charleston for a wedding. By that point, health pros were starting to say, "Avoid gatherings of over 10 people." Fortunately, the wedding guests only exceded that by about 140.

5. Charleston, a prime tourist destination, seemed particularly crowded as I walked through the historic Battery district towards the port against a flowing clot of people. Then I turned a corner and saw they were all passengers disembarking from a CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIP! (This is true, btw.) I envisioned loved ones back home soon wearing souvenir shirts that read MOM AND DAD WENT TO CHARLESTON AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY COMMUNICABLE PLAGUE.

6. I went immediately to the nearest mortuary and prearranged shipment of my soon-to-be-corpse to New London.

And Rick held illimitable domain over all.


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