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Day 148: Cooped Up With Sick Memories

I’ve missed the boat on the trend toward pet abandonment as the pandemic spreads. Except for dogs, New Yorkers keep their pets indoors. (That’s not a bad thing, given that scientists think cats scare urban songbirds out of reproducing.)

Readers have sent me links to stories about stray dogs, cats, guinea pigs, parakeets, ferrets, anything—all tossed out of doors, or cars, or hearts by beings who no longer rate the adjective human.

It’s people that make me sick at times like this, not virions. Please read this Humane Society page about disaster planning for your pets!

ONLY THE MICROBES ESCAPE: PERTUSSIS (US Department of Health and Human Services)Meanwhile, Evelyn warns that I’m exhibiting dangerous signs of agoraphobia, a panic disorder that manifests itself as a fear of being in public places. “You have to take control fast,” she exhorts. “Please don’t let yourself get locked inside. Who’s ever gonna get you out?”

And here I was, thinking I felt claustrophobic as I watched my neighbors’ windows go dark with sloppy patches of plywood, heavy plastic, even furniture. A strong wind could hurl some of those sharp-edged slabs into peoples’ heads. The rampaging teen vandals seem to have put Rome over the edge.

Listen, friend, I hate being cooped up in here. I long to walk in the streets again, take in some sunlight. (I rise early to try to catch direct D rays in the window.)

I’m dying to taste fresh fruit. An apple, an orange—especially a banana. I’d beg for a stalk of broccoli. Shuttered inside with no fresh nutrients, no place to exercise, how much resistance can anyone offer this virus?

As a kid I was quarantined with whooping cough. (AKA pertussis; evidently my vaccine wore off, which can happen.) When I wasn’t wracked in bed, I’d stand at the front door, wishing anyone would come to visit. I even missed certain teachers. A sign told visitors not to ring. My older brother was trapped, too. He blamed me for our incarceration, made sure I couldn’t access toys or the phone. One day I made it to the corner in my pajamas before a neighbor called the cops on me.

In Justinian’s Flea (about the first known pandemic, a bubonic plague outbreak that may have broken the back of what remained of the Roman Empire), William Rosen notes that the people of Constantinople took to going out with their names fastened to their necks in case they fell ill and died before they could get home. 

I’ll step out when it seems wise or necessary. Fully clothed, with dog tags. Promise.

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