Easter in the time of COVID-19 (the lion tamer)
(originally posted 4/12/2020)
“So how’s the whip coming?” broadcast Betty across the fence to Barney. They lived next door to each other in a development where each house sat on a quarter acre, so having a conversation as each person sat on their deck was very doable.
Of course, Barney wasn’t on his deck at the moment. He was standing in the middle of his backyard practicing the whip. For the life of him he couldn’t get it to crack with any regularity. He replied simply with a small disgruntled grunt. (Hopefully future writers can just refer to this as a disgrunt)
“Can I ask about the new dog?” asked Betty. They had been neighbors for years but had never had much of a relationship outside of the occasional friendly nod. Barney’s dog sat next to him wearing a large lion’s mane wig.
“Sure” replied Barney, once again failing to make the whip crack, which was fortunate for his dog Lion because the noise terrified him and would send him sprinting back inside the house. “I’m using this downtime to learn how to be a lion tamer.” He said it very matter-of-factly.
“I see” said Betty, “That would explain the platform.” She motioned to the large round platform that Barney had built, as if he’d never seen it before. He had gone to the trouble of stapling a decorative curtain around its base teaming with yellow stars and red stripes and other colorful things.
Another failed attempt at cracking the whip. Lion seemed to breathe a small sigh of relief.
Betty thought that ‘physical distancing’ was a much better way to describe the six feet everyone had been told to keep between each other rather than ‘social distancing’. It seemed much friendlier. It was Easter morning after all.
“You realize that circuses don’t do that anymore. The animal rights folks shut it all down.” Betty’s neighbor on the other side had suddenly cranked up Chaise Longue by Wet Leg to a hundred decibels so she was forced to walk over to the fence to continue the conversation. It was annoying that her neighbor’s kids didn’t respect the people living around them but at least the song was good.
“Barney stopped whipping and looked at her sincerely. “I know. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to try. To see if I had it in me. That’s why I adopted Lion here. Why not use this crisis to better myself, right? Lemons and lemonade and such.”
“It’s nice you gave a dog a home. So… do you think you could actually get into a cage with a large cat? They seem so ferocious on TV.”
Barney looked up into the air as if lost in thought. Finally his attention returned to Betty and he asked “Do you want to hear a secret I’ve never told anyone before?”
If you learn nothing else from my dumb stories, please remember that if anyone ever asks you that question, say “No.” Nothing good ever follows. Trust me on that.
Betty smiled and indicated that she did.
“Once, years ago, I was driving and had to pee so I pulled over to a truck stop. After using the urinal I walked over to wash my hands and saw this long piece of used floss sitting on the sink.”
Lion started fidgeting and trying to pull off his mane.
Next-door Chaise Longue ended and Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender started up.
If it seems like I’m stalling you’ll understand why soon enough.
“So I summoned up all my courage” continued Barney, “And I flossed my teeth with it. Thoroughly. There could have been anything on that floss. It could have been used by anyone. Have you seen trucker’s teeth? Maybe a crackhead with gum disease. At that moment I realized I could do anything. Including, but not limited to, standing in front of a lion.”
At that moment Lion, who thought he was being addressed, jumped up on the platform, which seemed to delight Barney to no end. He said “Good dog!” at least a dozen times and made a big fuss of him.
Betty used the opportunity to slowly walk back inside her house. “Maybe social distancing isn’t such a bad way to put it” she said to herself as she slid the sliding glass door closed behind her.