One of my memories of April 4, 1988, was what a glorious day it was. Sunny, in the 80s, and perfect. At least in Kansas City. I remember going to Dairy Queen with friends after school and then mowing the lawn in the lead up to the national championship game. It was one of those early spring days in the Midwest that fools you into thinking summer is closer than it actually is.

We are currently in a nice run of similar days. Yesterday it was pushing 80. Today it will again be in the mid–70s. We’ve been able to wear shorts outside for several days. I’ve likely spent too much time in the sun already. There has been a lot of shooting baskets, hitting practice golf balls, taking bike rides, and decorating the driveway with chalk. We even talked about opening the pool, although I’ve put off calling our pool service.

Alas, as I said, these days are big teases. After today there isn’t a single day in the extended forecast where the high will be above 60. Several days it will only be in the 40s. We have several hard freezes ahead of us at night.[1]

These warm days almost make our lockdown tolerable. It’s like being asked to shelter at home in San Diego. With the weather about to turn, and the national news getting worse each day, the next 7–10 days are going to be a mental struggle.

One horrible story I have not shared yet is that a CHS student was shot and killed two weeks ago. He was a junior, so M did not know him. He was also a very good football player, one of the team’s best defensive backs last year who often returned punts and kicks as well.

The story reveal has been rather strange in the local media. The day of the shooting there was a story about it, saying two men were shot and killed while a juvenile had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. No names were given. M quickly heard through the CHS grapevine that the student had died. We assumed he was the juvenile and there were three fatalities.

A day later there was a story in the paper about his death, with reaction from the football coaches, fellow players, and school administrators. There was no mention in the story of his cause of death or that he had even been involved in the shooting incident.

M later heard a rumor that, whatever caused the event, the football player had jumped in front of his younger brother to protect him during the shooting. So the football player must have been 18 and one of the dead adults while his brother was the juvenile who went to the hospital. We have not heard how he is doing.

The school had a drive-through memorial service, where families could drive up the school hill to pay their respects. There was an online service.

Just an awful story in a terrible time.

S and I took a walk the other night around the high school across the street. There were a few kids on the football field doing workouts. As we approached the soccer fields we saw some guys out playing. Just then another car pulled up and 6–7 more guys hopped out. S and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and she said, “Well, maybe they’re all brothers.” Then they started jumping over and crawling under the fence, or squeezing between the gates to get into the fields. She cringed further, worried one of them would get carved up.

As always, teenage boys aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.

I’ve been out twice this week, Monday morning for a quick grocery store run and today to Costco for the first time since early February. Both times I wore a mask, as that is now the thing to do. When I first walked into the grocery story Monday, the first 5–8 people I saw were all mask-less and I started to feel self conscious. Fortunately as I got deeper into the store I saw more and more people who were wearing masks. At Costco it was probably 60–40 masks to no masks. I was surprised how many employees were working without masks on.

I get that masks can be hard to find. They are uncomfortable. I was at the grocery store right when they opened at 7:00, so perhaps some people thought they could get in and out without needing one. And some people, honestly, may not have heard that the guidance on whether to wear a mask or not has changed. I refuse to judge people for what they do or do not do. It’s an emotional enough time without people giving you the stink eye. I just hope they are washing their hands thoroughly when they get home.

I’m going out more than I should, mostly because I wanted to get that Costco trip in and with it being Easter week we are slowly putting together a menu for Sunday that will likely require another trip out. I’m justifying all these tripes since I seem healthy, I’m wearing a mask, I’m going as soon as stores open and they are not crowded, and I’m getting in-and-out quick. I’ll likely cut way back next week, though. I get nervous about being out so much.

Speaking of masks, I keep seeing people driving with them on. I understand if they are delivery people who are constantly encountering people. But I’ve seen people who live down the street leave or come back with their masks on. Which I think is really weird. If you’re by yourself in your car, you don’t need to wear the mask. Maybe they just worry they will forget to put it on when they get to their destination if they don’t do it as soon as they get into the car?

One thing I keep thinking of is the long-term effects all of this will have on people. Not in terms of the economy, jobs, finances, etc. More in terms of how my grandparents were scarred for life by the Depression. My mom’s mom, who was a farmer’s wife, could not throw out food to save her life. Even if there was a tiny bite of something left, she would pack it into Tupperware and stash it in the fridge. Those little bites served as lunch additions or snacks between meals. Often on Saturday nights she would pull everything out and lay it out across the table, and you made a plate from the accumulated leftovers from the week. She also let me have root beer floats with my dinner on those nights, so as much as I hated having to eat week-old casserole, I kind of enjoyed those summer, Saturday nights I spent at their house.

But those were the scars that trying to survive in rural Kansas during the Depression left.

How will this period, however long it lasts, affect us? Will Americans begin wearing masks more often? Will we, in general, practice better hand hygiene? Will more people keep their pantries and freezers stocked for potential moments of food supply disruption? Will social distancing become deeply ingrained in our society? Will people who are young kids today always be fearful of strangers, as their parents tell them to stay away from people at the park, while taking walks through the neighborhood, etc.?

There are likely long-term effects that we aren’t aware of yet that our grandkids will laugh at us for in 20–30 years.

  1. Maybe that will kill all the wasps and yellow jackets that have been buzzing around.  ↩