D. None of the above

Hundreds of protesters stand at the corner of Routes 112 and 347 in Port Jefferson Station Monday, June 1 to protest police violence, especially against people of color. Photo by David Luces

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Stepping outside of our homes presents risks. We could have a car accident on the way to work or a branch could fall on us, among myriad other potential dangers.

These days, the risks of leaving our homes have escalated. We could catch the dreaded coronavirus anywhere if we stand closer than six feet to anyone.

Nowadays, interactions that we engaged in all of our lives with friends and family, such as shaking hands or hugging, increase the risk of picking up the invisible enemy, bringing it to our home sanctuaries and infecting our partners, children, and parents.

We have learned to manage the risks we’ve now heard about for months by staying as far away from other people as we can and by wearing masks.

And yet, for some Americans, the risks of stepping outside of homes where we were hopefully safe most of the time, was clearly higher than it was for other Americans.

Indeed, the risks of dying from coronavirus differed by race. The age-adjusted death rate in Suffolk County for whites was 49.5 per 100,000 people, according to statistics from the Department of Health. For Hispanics on Long Island, that number is 108.7, which is more than twice the rate per 100,000 people. For blacks, the number is an astronomical 170.1 deaths per 100,000 people in the county, which is well over three times the rate for whites.

Those statistics generally track the disproportionate toll the virus has had on communities of color.

Now, layer on top of that the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Seemingly at the worst possible time for our country, as businesses are just starting to reopen and as standing within 6 feet of each other increases the chance of our catching a virus that has claimed over 100,000 American lives, people are going outside in huge numbers across the country to express their outrage over Floyd’s killing at the seemingly indifferent hands of a white police officer who faces third-degree murder charges.

Those African-Americans who gather, at the risk of contracting an infection that has already wreaked havoc in their communities, are expressing anger and frustration at a justice system that appears anything but just.

The news coverage of the protests has often focused on the most explosive and terrifying events, where looting and setting fire to police cars and engaging in random acts of violence have occurred. Those shocking actions are inexcusable manifestations of those frustrations, turning justifiable disappointment into illegal acts. These moments also threaten to overshadow the message from so many others who would like to see constructive changes.

Many peaceful protestors, however, might have the same approach to the risks of joining others to protest Floyd’s murder that President Donald Trump (R) did to the notion of taking hydroxychloroquine, which may or may not reduce the health effects and dangers of COVID-19.

What, they might wonder, do they have to lose at this point?

The answer is not so simple, particularly as the risk of getting arrested, hit with a rubber bullet or vomiting from inhaling tear gas increases.

The dangers in stepping outside into a world filled with a virus that infects our bodies and cultural viruses that threaten the soul of the country are especially high in a year with overtones from the civil unrest of the 1960’s.

Peaceful protestors can and should demand and expect the kind of changes that will allow them and their children to step outside to a country where the risks from being out of their homes shouldn’t depend on the color of their skin.

Photo from METRO

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Our world is filled with all kinds of new terms, like social distancing, face coverings and viral peaks. We could use a few new terms to describe the modern reality, which might give us greater control over the unsettling world around us. How about:

Zoom Staging: The process of setting up our best artwork and most intelligent books behind us. We might have read “War and Peace” or “Crime and Punishment” or “An American Tragedy” in college. It’s time to find those and put them on the shelves behind us, leading to a deep discussion about our favorite books as we wait for other people to join the calls. We could also add a few adorable pieces of incomprehensible artwork from our children that none of our coworkers would dare criticize.

Curbworld: Even though we’re opening up parts of the economy starting this week, we still can only do some retail shopping through curbside pickup. We have become a world that exists at the curb, where retail space goes untouched and where curbs have become the intersection of our outings and the stuff we bring home.

Googleversity: To some extent, we were living in this world before the virus, but search platforms have become a critical part of our children’s home learning environment. In addition to listening to a professor with a headset or air pods on, our children are also frantically searching the web in real time to answer questions about the War of 1812 or about theorems that sound vaguely familiar.

Coviracy Theories: The world was filled with conspiracy theories before President Donald Trump (R) came along and will have plenty of conspiracy theories after he leaves. Still, the preponderance of conspiracy theories related to the virus should have its own lexicon, as people have blamed everyone from foreign governments to incredibly rich and successful technology geniuses for the virus.

Insertcollege.edu: Up until now, people have graduated from colleges where they had unique, on site experiences. This year, that’s not the case, as distance learning seems to have become something of a commodity, with professors of all talent levels struggling to engage a group of people remotely. None of the books we have that are supposed to help with the college hunt — and we have plenty of them now with a high school junior and a college freshman in our midst — help us differentiate among the online platforms of the institutions of higher learning. It’s unclear how, if at all, any of these institutions stands out.

SWSD: Second Wave Stress Disorder. Over the last several weeks, we have heard plenty about a coming second wave. In fact, some colleges that are reopening their doors this fall, such as North Carolina State University, plan to start their semester early, go through fall break and then send students home for an extended break that they hope allows them to avoid a second wave at school.

91 Divoc Dreams: Given the dream world, it seems fitting that we reverse the order of COVID-19 to suggest the upside down world that haunts our dreams, which is a mixture of the realities of our daily fears, anxieties and discomforts blended with the imaginative world of science fiction drama that we beam into our bedrooms that distract and unnerve us.

Masksession: Some of us have become obsessed with the right not to wear a mask, even as others feel an urgency to ensure everyone wears masks. The mask discussion has become an obsession.

2020 No More: To finish the vernacular, we should no longer consider perfect vision to be 20-20 because, after all, 2020 sucks. We could change it to 21-21 or anything else, where we don’t need to link the perfect vision of hindsight to this imperfect year.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The weapons and uniforms are different, but the goals are the same: to protect the interests of Americans everywhere and to save lives.

Every year, Memorial Day presents an opportunity to honor the men and women who served our country in the military, as we appreciate their courage and sacrifice during battles against a range of enemies.

This year, we have a large group of people who are laying their lives on the line for the benefit of society. They are the first responders, who arrive at the homes of people stricken with symptoms of a disease that can make breathing difficult, that can give them a fever for days or even weeks.

They are the nurses who not only take the pulse and blood pressure of their patients, but also provide a human connection when those with the virus can’t have friends and family visit.

They are the doctors who use the best medicine at their disposal to provide comfort until a new standard of care is developed or a vaccine is created.

They are also the police and fire rescue teams that set aside their personal concerns about interacting with members of the community who might be sick to help strangers and the family members of those strangers.

Without these health care workers prepared to help in the struggle against a virus that never takes a weekend off or for which chicken soup, sleep or a hot shower are inadequate to ameliorate the symptoms, Long Islanders would be struggling on their own, infecting each other, and dying at even higher levels.

At the same time, people who work in other fields have been vital to the ongoing functioning of our society in the midst of the pandemic. The people who deliver packages and the mail have connected us to an outside world we can’t visit. They travel through our neighborhoods, wearing gloves and masks and bringing everything from Mother’s Day cards for the mothers and grandmothers we dare not visit lest we are an unsuspecting carrier of the deadly disease, to the paperwork we need to sign.

Those who work in grocery stores stock the shelves with the necessities and luxuries we snap up every week, as we continue to feed families huddled in our homes. Bus drivers and transit workers enable first responders, grocery store clerks, and others to get to and from their jobs.

In addition to accepting their normal responsibilities, these people also go to their jobs in a new normal that requires many of them to wash their clothing and shower before they interact with their family, which some of them only do while wearing masks.

Some of them have died in the line of duty. They have made the ultimate sacrifice because their difficult jobs haven’t provided them with an immunity from a virus that threatens everyone.

This Memorial Day, we should honor the fallen from past wars, the soldiers who fought in Europe 75 years ago, the ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, those who trudged through the jungles of Vietnam, and the patriots who ensured our freedom during the founding of the country.

We should also honor the fallen victims of the virus who were on the front lines, armed with personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns and face coverings. 

When we wave our flags and honor those who gave their lives, we should pray for and thank the heroes of the last few months as well. They put themselves in harm’s way and inspired the rest of us with the same kind of courage we celebrate each year from our armed forces.

Stock photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I love my neighbors. I never knew who most of them were, but I do now. I see them almost every day and they are friendlier than most of the people I’ve ever worked with. Then again, they haven’t been sitting at their desks, waiting for me to file a story, to fix some error, or to explain how I could have ended the previous sentence with a preposition.

I don’t just love my neighbors. I love the trees that reflect the different types of spring lighting that falls on them throughout the day, as I take my exhausted dog for yet another long walk. The singing of the birds? I can’t get enough of it. In fact, the other day, I heard three birds, all singing their repetitive songs. Meanwhile, a woodpecker was banging his head against a tree, searching for his insect prey while providing a percussion background to the sounds of the other birds chirping. Incidentally, why haven’t clever scientists studied woodpeckers to see how they recover from nonstop concussions? How can they fly straight after all that pounding?

So, my neighbors can’t always update me on their lives, because A. they don’t always have time to chat with the guy who walks his big, white dog too many times a day, and B. they want to make sure they stay at least six feet away from me, which isn’t so easy when said big white dog pulls me and him
towards them.

They do a fantastic job of updating me on their lives with the signs that grace their lawns. I’ve read about birthdays, new babies, graduations, among many other milestones and celebrations limited by our red light, green light, one-two-three game with a virus that doesn’t seem to have turned away long enough for us to do much moving.

Anyway, I was just thinking about the signs my neighbors don’t put on our lawns, but that might reflect their current reality. Here’s a list of a few:

— No one told us we’d be entertaining three kids under 5 years old indefinitely.

— Yes, I’m working on the lawn again.

— Don’t make fun of my makeup. Yours doesn’t exactly look great, either.

— Do you want to buy any knives from our cute and enterprising daughter who just finished college finals and needs something to do (okay, we might put that one on our lawn).

— I see you staring at my house, while you’re pretending to look at the trees.

— I’m celebrating nothing today. How about you?

— If you miss sports too, try to hit this sign with a ball and win a lollipop.

Lord of the Flies might have been fiction. This is real. Don’t, under any circumstances, knock on our door.

— This invisible fence isn’t for a dog. Keep off the lawn.

— Does anyone know what day it is?

— Hopefully, this sign will distract you from the peeling paint on our shutters.

— We’ve been binge watching Stranger Things and can’t come to the door right now because we’re in the Upside Down. Please leave a message.

— No, wrong house. The neighbor down the street and to the left is the happy one.

— We know it sounds weird, but it’s our version of modern music.

Finally, I’d like to share an actual, handwritten sign that from a neighbor who had clearly had enough of the rest of us, with our stupid dogs on stupid leashes every day.

— No poop zone (I can’t believe I have to say this).

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Derek has eaten more pizza in the past six weeks than he has in the previous three years. Heather feels like an insect, trapped late in the night in the electric glow of her screen. Steve drinks too much Coke Zero and Eliene stays up way too late and wears the same pants too often.

In response to email questions, several Long Islanders shared their healthiest and least healthy habits during the lockdown.

Derek Poppe, who is a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone (D), has been able to work off some of the pizza he’s eating at lunch by running outside, which he started doing after the gym he has attended for seven years closed seven weeks ago.

“I have also tried my hand at meditation which has been incredible since, really, from the time we wake up to when we go to bed, we are surrounded by all things COVID-19,” Poppe wrote in an email.

Bellone, meanwhile, rides his Peloton stationary bike early in the morning or late at night. The county executive also sometimes runs at 10:30 p.m. before beginning to prepare for the next morning’s meetings and radio calls.

Bellone’s least healthy habits include ramping up his consumption of Coke Zero.

Sara Roncero-Menendez from Stony Brook, meanwhile, walks around her neighborhood on sunny days. When the weather gets rough, she does YouTube yoga. She’s also been crocheting and cross-stitching, getting a head start on holiday gifts.

“It’s been a good way to keep busy and actually have something to show for it at the end,” Roncero-Menendez wrote.

Like many others in New York and around the world, Roncero-Menendez has spent too much time glued to her screens and also hasn’t been sleeping well.

Karen McNulty-Walsh from Islip does 30 minutes of yoga, takes her dog for walks, and gets out of bed regularly between 6 and 7 a.m. each morning.

Pete Genzer from Port Jefferson Station has been cooking dinner every night, which is “good in terms of eating healthy food, and I also really enjoy cooking so it’s mentally stimulating and relaxing.”

Genzer’s least healthy habit is “sitting in the same, non-ergonomic chair all day long doing work and attending virtual meeting after virtual meeting.”

Larry Swanson and his wife Dana, who live in Head of the Harbor, enjoy their daily walks with their aging Chesapeake Bay retriever Lily. Dana is growing food in the yard and has found it a “new, interesting and nice experience being with her grumpy old husband for so much for the time,” Larry Swanson wrote.

Indeed, in the 56 years of their marriage, the Swansons have never spent as much time as they have together during lockdown.

Dana’s unhealthiest habit is watching the news.

Heather Lynch from Port Jefferson said she feels like the insect trapped in the glowing screen. On the positive side, she continues to work out every day, which she describe as more of an addiction than a habit.

Eliene Augenbaum, who lives in the Bronx and works on Long Island, has eaten home-cooked food and had deep conversations with friends. On the unhealthy side, she stays up too late, wears the same pants, and shops for vacations and shoes that are of little use during lockdown.

A friend from New York City, who makes her own meals and walks her dogs, takes her temperature several times a day, has eaten her emergency, huge bag of Chex mix in one sitting and obsesses over why everyone else has medical-style masks on the street while she’s seeking viral protection behind a pillowcase wrapped around her head.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I am a journalist, which means I know a tiny bit about numerous subjects, but I am out of my depth once the questions dive below the surface. Oh, sure, I can play the journalistic game, where I throw around some terms, but I’m certainly not qualified to answer the best questions I could ask. Nonetheless, given the quarantine and the difficulty of getting people who are informed, funny, or funny and informed on the phone these days, I’m going to interview myself about the state of the world.

Question: How do you think we’re doing?

Answer: Well, that kind of depends. If we’re talking about humans in general, I would say we’re struggling. We were struggling before, but this virus has pushed us deeper into our struggles.

Question: Are we any better off today than we were yesterday or maybe last week or the week before?

Answer: Yes, yes we are.

Question: Do you care to elaborate?

Answer: No, no I don’t.

Question: Come on! You can’t just ignore me. I need to know.

Answer: No, you don’t. You’ll read what I write and then you’ll move on to the comment section of other articles, where clever people share their witticisms.

Question: Wait, how do know about the satisfaction I get out of some of the better comments?

Answer: Are you really asking that question?

Question: No, let’s get back on topic. If we’re better off today than we were yesterday or last week, will that trajectory continue? If it does, are we going to be able to live our lives with a new normal that’s more like the older normal, or will we have to wear masks and practice the kind of safe distancing that makes people long for the days when Jerry Seinfeld was annoyed on his show by a “close talker,” who, in the modern era in New York, would probably get a ticket for his close talking habit?

Answer: You had to pander with a TV reference, didn’t you? Don’t answer that! Anyway, yes, the trajectory looks better than it did, but there’s no guarantee it won’t change. You see, it’s a little like the stock market. Just because a company’s past performance is solid or impressive doesn’t guarantee anything about its future.

Question: Right, right. So, do you think my kids will ever get out of the house again?

Answer: You buried that question down low, didn’t you? Well, yes, I think they will return to a version of school that may also be different, but that also has some similarities to what they knew.

Question: Oh, good. Wait, so, you don’t really know, do you?

Answer: I do know that schools are pushing hard to solve the riddle, the conundrum, the enigma, the total ##[email protected]!$ fest that has become the modern world. I know that parents the world over would like to go to the bathroom without someone following them into the room. I know that people would like to talk on the phone without worrying that their kids are listening, that people need adult alone time, and that the Pythagorean theorem isn’t going to teach itself.

Question: What does the Pythagorean theorem have to do with anything?

Answer: It’s out there and it’s on the approved list of things to learn. Are we almost done?

Question: Yes, so what do you think about the election?

Answer: I think it’ll happen in November and it’ll be an interesting opportunity to exercise our democratic rights.

Question: Who do you think will win?

Answer: An old man.

Question: Which one?

Answer: The one who yells at us through
the TV.

Question: They both do.

Answer: Then I’m going to be right.

Photo from METRO

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I’m the dog that lives in a house with these four people who never leave. I think I may have entered the dog Twilight Zone.

First, there’s this guy who loves to pick me up. It’s crazy, because I’m about 90 pounds, but he says he’s getting exercise. I don’t mind too much, but it does feel weird being up as high as the cats get when they jump to get away from me.

Then, there’s this smaller girl who is his sister. She speaks to me once a day in a high squeaky voice and pats my head. I wag my tail to encourage her, but she has too many other things to do, much of which involve the phone in her hand. 

Then there’s “Mom,” who is a self-described cat person. She doesn’t like the way I smell and I’m always in her way. Still, she gives me food once in a while and she tells everyone else to leave me alone and let me go to sleep. The girl and boy stay up way after mom and dad and they sometimes want to play when I would prefer to dream about this old dog who lives next door.

Finally, there’s the one they call “Dad.” He takes me on most of my walks. Sometimes, he puts these white things in his ears and talks to people who aren’t there. He doesn’t always pay close attention to me when he’s got those things in his head, so I get more time to sniff the high traffic areas where other dogs leave their scents.

My daily routine has changed considerably. For starters, walks are both better and worse. They are better because I can go further and I see more people. I am what you might call a “people dog.” But here’s where things get weird. As soon as people get almost close enough to pat my head, either Dad takes me across the street or the other people walk away from me. I’ve tried everything. I lay down and put my head between my paws. That’s a classic, nonthreatening pose. People sometimes slow down when they see that one and they make happy noises, but they rarely stop and they never pat my head.

I also stop and wag my tail with my ears up. Again, it’s Dog Tricks 101, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Sometimes they smile at me, although, more often than not, they seem to be holding their breath when Dad and I walk by. Maybe Dad has been eating too many onions again and he has bad people breath. 

Nobody walks in the door and announces they are home anymore. They’re here almost all the time. They used to be happy when I barked at people who walked past the house or who came to the door. Now, they scream about how I have “perfect timing” and how they’re on a “work call” and they need me to “keep quiet.”

I am just doing what generations of dogs have done since the beginning of that whole wolf-dog transformation. I’m protecting the house. How am I supposed to know that it’s “just a stroller” or that I’m going to “make that little kid fall off his bike?”

I’m definitely in the dog Twilight Zone these days, waiting for people to pet me again and waiting for the four people who never leave to start appreciating all the little things I do again, like protecting the house.

Photo from METRO

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

During my sophomore year of college, I was preparing to visit my family for Thanksgiving. In early November, however, I had this incredible need to come home to see my mother, my younger brother, our aged-but-still-hanging-in-there golden retriever and my dying father, who was in the hospital full time.

I asked my mother if I could come home a week before Thanksgiving, return to school and then travel back again for Thanksgiving. She acquiesced, suggesting that the family would be happy to see me twice during the month. Of course, she also gently reminded me, to the extent that she ever gently reminded me of anything, that I bring home any schoolwork.

My brother picked me up at the airport and drove me home. Initially, we avoided the subject that hung over every conversation. I didn’t ask how dad was because cancer is a horrific roller coaster ride, in which every small rise inevitably precedes a hard and fast drop towards the abyss.

Over the weekend, my mother brought me to the hospital. She warned me several times that my father was taking so many pain medications that he probably wouldn’t know I was in the room. He might not even wake up, she cautioned. Still, I needed to see him.

When I got to his room, he turned toward me and he acknowledged me, in the smallest way, with his eyes. He didn’t smile or speak, but his eyes told me that he not only knew who I was, but that he was glad to see me. He tried to sit up, which was extremely unusual in the end stage of his life. His movements through the day were extraordinarily limited and he wasn’t interacting with anyone regularly.

Protecting me from seeing my father’s emaciated body in a hospital gown that hung tenuously onto his body the way he clung to life, my mother took me to the cafeteria to get my father a grilled cheese while a nurse brought him to a chair. By the time we got back, he was mostly asleep in the chair. He didn’t eat or acknowledge me, and had already drifted away.

That was the last time I saw him alive. He died before Thanksgiving. Difficult as the memory is, I know how fortunate I am to have had the chance to see him one last time. I didn’t thank him for being a wonderful father or receive any sage advice. I got one more moment to connect with him.

With that memory in mind, my heart aches with the recognition of the hardships families are enduring through their separations caused by the coronavirus. I am confident courageous nurses and doctors are comforting those with uncontrollable coughs, fever, aches and all the other symptoms of this dreaded disease.

And yet, I also recognize how difficult it must be for people not to share the same room or, as I did, to exchange one last glance into a loved one’s eyes.

We draw inspiration from seeing each other, sharing space and time, and wrapping ourselves in the blanket of humanity that offers comfort during times of crisis. I admire those who have stood outside the windows of loved ones, with messages of hope and encouragement. I also appreciate the benefit that FaceTime provides, letting people look at a virtual image of people whose lives have defined ours.

Hopefully, our continued commitment to social distancing and working from home will prevent people from contracting COVID-19, while we await vaccines from scientists and pharmaceutical companies. These efforts will ultimately prevent more families from enduring the additional layer of pain caused by such separations.

Photo by METRO

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

With sports on hold during the pandemic, I would like to borrow from the sports channels and share a collection of sports memories.

The singing pitcher 

My daughter was pitching against a heavily favored team. In the first inning, she walked in two runs. As the coach, I raced out to the mound to check on her. She was quietly singing a song to herself. I knew there was nothing I could say that would top whatever song was entertaining her. In the final play of the game, the batter hit a ground ball to her and she raced over to first base, where she placed the ball in the glove of her teammate, starting an unlikely victory celebration.

The basketball game where we almost covered the spread

Knowing from the standings that the basketball team I coached would struggle against a team that should have been in a different league, I told my team that if they kept the other team under 50 points and we scored 30, we would have a pizza party. At the end of the game, the other team scored 49 points. We had a chance, with one last shot, to reach 30. We didn’t make it, but the referees congratulated each player on our team for fighting till the end. If they only knew …

The stampede game 

In Cooperstown, I coached a town team of 12-year-olds against a team aptly named the Stampede. Hoping to confuse their 6-foot tall hitters, I chose our softest throwing pitchers. It worked early, as they only scored one run in the first inning. In the second inning, my son hit a home run, giving us a 2-1 lead. We lost 11-4, but our players and their parents couldn’t have been happier, as we were the first team to score more than one run in an entire game and were also the first team the Stampede didn’t mercy.

Tough as nails 

Even with a face mask on her softball helmet, the fastball that hit my daughter caused the mask to give her a bloody lip. The umpire said she could come out and return later. She refused help or attention and ran to first base. She stole second, third and home, and returned to the bench with a triumphant smile.

The tiny team that did 

My daughter was on a vastly undersized volleyball team that made it to the finals against a team that, in warm ups, pummeled balls into the ground. With my daughter anchoring the back row, the other team became frustrated that their hard hits didn’t win points. They tried hitting at different angles and further away from the defense, crushing balls just out. When my daughter served the last five points for the win, I joined a collection of elated parents as we screamed and threw our arms in the air. I briefly turned my head to hide the tears of pride welling in my eyes. 

The kid who was way ahead of his time 

When my son was in pee wee ball, he watched a lot of baseball  my fault. He played shortstop in a station-to-station game, in which each player moved up one base, regardless of where the ball went and whether someone got out. With the bases loaded, a player hit a line drive to my son at shortstop. He caught the ball, ran to third to get the runner who was jogging home and tagged the runner who approached him. After his unassisted triple play, he jogged off the field and dropped the ball near the pitcher’s mound. I had to explain to him that he didn’t play that way yet, but that he would, and hopefully will again, soon.

Stock photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Disclaimer: The following column is intended to provide a lighthearted response to the ongoing pandemic. In no way does it diminish or ignore the suffering or the unimaginable horror for people who have lost loved ones or who are on the front lines of the crisis. I continue to be grateful for all the help, support, and work everyone is doing to keep us safe, fed, and cared for (see last week’s column). This latest column, however, is designed to offer comic relief.

I was thinking about how life has changed in small, and largely insignificant ways. Please find below some “before coronavirus” and “after coronavirus” trivial differences for those of us fortunate enough to be inconvenienced and not irreparably harmed by the virus and when we’re not focused on the anxiety of shuttered businesses and lost income.

Where should we eat?

BC: Do you want to go to the Italian restaurant with the cool music and the frescoes on the wall, or the Chinese restaurant, with the incredible dumplings and the endless supply of hot tea?

AC: Should we go back to the kitchen, the dining room or the bedroom, where there are so many leftover crumbs that we could eat those for dinner without going to the refrigerator?

What should we wear?

BC: We could take the newly pressed suit that’s back from the dry cleaner, the slightly wrinkled suit that we wore a few days earlier, or the jeans and casual shirt that works on a casual Friday.

AC: We could take yesterday’s sweatpants, the ripped jeans that don’t smell too bad, or stay in the pajamas we wore to bed.

What should we do when we see people we know on the sidewalk?

BC: We slow our walk, smile, shake hands or hug and ask how they are doing.

AC: We run across the street, yell in their general direction and wave as we make the same joke we made the day before about the need for social distancing.

How do we start emails?

BC: We might dive right in, ask an important question or ease into it, hoping all is well.

AC: We often start emails by hoping the person we’re writing to and their family are safe.

How should we check on our college-age children?

BC: We can call them or FaceTime to see how they are doing and listen attentively as they share the excitement about school.

AC: We can call or FaceTime them from behind their locked door in our house and ask them how they are doing.

What do we do about the polarizing president?

BC: If we love him, we can find others who admire him. If we hate him, we can blame him for climate change, relaxing regulations, and changing the tone of discourse in Washington.

AC: If we love him, we can thank our lucky stars that he’s leading us and the economy out of this pandemic. If we hate him, we can blame him for our slow reaction and hold him to account for everything he and his administration haves said or didn’t say in connection with the COVIDcovid-19 response.

What do we do if someone sneezes?

BC: We offer a polite “God bless you” or, if we’re fans of “Seinfeld,” we say, “You are so good looking.”

AC: We drop anything we’re carrying and race across the room. When we’re a safe distance, we turn around scornfully, particularly if the person didn’t sneeze into anhis or her  elbow.

What do we think is funny?

BC: We follow our own sense of humor, reserving the right to laugh only when we feel compelled.

AC: We look at a picture of Winnie-the- Pooh and Piglet. We see Winnie telling Piglet to “Back the f$#@$ off,” and we laugh and send it to everyone who won’t get in trouble for receiving an email in which someone curses, after we ask if they and their family are safe.