You remember or have heard of Sportin’ Life, I’m sure. He was the devil incarnate in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. While drugs were what he was peddling and the “high life” from taking them, Sportin’ Life became a symbol for temptation. Beginning Monday and by June 11 almost every state will be open to some degree. Temptation. The results could be as ruinous as if you took drugs.
Today we went for a long ride out to the a national wild lands park and a huge regional recreational park. In spite of the “closed” signs every where there were scores of people everywhere. Fishing, boating, sun-bathing. Ahhh the temptation. Few wore masks. Fewer were “social distancing,” the latest phrase to be added to the English language lexicon.
At the entrance to the national park is one of the area’s most popular farmer’s markets. The parking lot was jam-packed. Yes everyone had a mask on–they were forced to because they couldn’t go in without one. Yes the store was letting people in by groups, but that resulted in a long waiting line. I estimate the distance between people to have been more like six inches rather than six feet.
This next thought is not great science but it is pretty good intuition. Many people are going to break out of their houses like horses let out of the pen. Even if they are not reckless, they will be less careful. The scientific community warns that in 2-3 weeks of the openings there will be “hot spots” of virus outbreaks. If they are dealt with as slowly and poorly as the first set, swaths of the country will be back in the grips of Sportin’ Life.
I’ve never taken drugs so I can’t tell you what that high life feels like. I can tell you that I have relatives who came within several breaths of death. We know others who have had it. What rings in my mind is the man on television who said his doctor told him he had a “mild” case. He said, “I’ve never been so sick in my life.” My family members said the recovery is almost as bad as being sick. On average they were invalids on oxygen for two months. They didn’t get the high life; they got on the ladder to hell. Sportin’ Life, you see, he’s a salesman. All he cares about is temptation being stronger than resistance. After that, you’re on your own.
Resist, friends, resist. Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof proclaims, “L’Chayim” to life. I’ve heard countless clergy persons and doctors say heaven is the better choice than hell. Betting with them rather than against them is the better bet–at least from my perspective.
A somewhat gloomy BIll Gralnick writes to you from his desk on the gloomy, wet day in south Florida, He may have to read his own book, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales From Brooklyn” (Amazon and B&N.com, e-book or paperback) to life his spirits. If you need a lift, “try it, you’ll like it!” And remember the writer’s cheer: “Read! It’s good for both of us.