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If we can’t laugh during coronavirus, what’s the point?

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As COVID-19 spreads and more and more precautions, cancellations and dire predictions dominate the headlines and airways, it’s getting harder to find things to smile about. But, as Erma Bombeck said: “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” Humor has a way of surfacing even in dire circumstances.

Probably the earliest related ha-ha to hit my email was titled “Anti-coronavirus Spray.” It pictured a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey topped with an atomizer and the instructions to “spray throat 3 times a day.”

As we have been instructed to greet each other with elbow bumps instead of hugs or handshakes, there is a certain amount of amusement in watching the varying techniques people employ. Some are straightforward elbow touches exchanged in the most efficient manner, but others give it a little more pizazz with twists, double taps and maybe even a dance step or two. I recently heard a suggestion that booty-bumps might be another accepted greeting. That should be interesting!

It has long been suggested that a proper handwashing technique requires lathering for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice (or, in Britain, “God Save the Queen”), but more creative suggestions are being made. I heard one discussion in which we were told to wash our hands as if we had just attended a Louisiana crawfish boil and needed to replace a contact lens. A variation was to wash our hands as if we had just sliced a batch of jalapenos. Then, a much less appetizing suggestion was to wash our hands as if we had just been using one-ply toilet paper.

Actually, toilet paper is figuring prominently in many jokes and cartoons related to the virus as everyone seems to be determined not to run out should quarantine occur and TP shelves in stores are mostly empty.

Of course, COVID-19 is not funny, but still, we need to heed Erma’s warning and do what we can to save civilization by looking for, if not a giggle, at least a smile, as we rummage through our stash of toilet paper and canned goods.

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.