Saturday, March 14, 2020

Notes from the Current Crisis

Northbrook Public Library
     When the Village of Northbrook sent an email Thursday announcing that after Friday the library will be closed for the rest of the month, the harsh voice of Clarence, the angel from "It's a Wonderful Life" practically screamed in my ear: "They're closing down the library!"
     And the NBA. And Broadway. And much of public life. But it was the library that prompted me to action, 4:30 p.m.—it was closing at 6 p.m. I grabbed a half dozen books around our living room that need to be returned, either already- or never-to-be read, and walked over: the library is literally in my backyard, or, rather, through my backyard, over a berm of trees, past the community vegetable garden, and through the parking lot of Village Hall.
     It wasn't quite a mob scene. But there were a dozen people in line to check out books. I had never seen that. I went upstairs to the New Books section, grabbed a few volumes that might prove useful in researching my next book, and got in line. The librarian who checked out my book was wearing latex gloves. He asked me if I knew the library was closing for a couple weeks. I said I did.
     I felt glad that in addition to hoarding toilet paper, that people are also hoarding books. A hopeful sign. Then again, the strange toilet paper situation—shelves stripped—did not cause the sense of superiority or condemnation it seemed to evoke in everybody else. I have what my people call rachmanis—something stronger than sympathy but weaker than pity—for such people. This is a scary moment, and if you can comfort yourself with a big cube of Angel Soft, or a copy of Emily Dickinsen, or just about anything else, well why not? Later that evening I stopped by Target for cat litter—not as a hedge against the End of the World, but because we need cat litter. I was relieved to find litter in bountiful supply and also on sale—normality tends to endure. The bread, however, was completely gone.

Target, Friday night



  1. I forgot to get to our library Friday; there is a book sale going on. Hope they stay open the weekend.
    I understand the reason people are rushing to buy toilet paper and other imagined necessities, but clearing shelves in order to fill up one’s own cart is selfish. I know I couldn’t do it, especially if other people were rushing toward the aisle to buy some.

  2. Guess I'd better hurry over to Jewel to scarf up the wholewheat bread right out of the oven. I wanted to get potatoes last night, but one store had no parking spaces and the other was out of all produce except onions. Ended up with an Italian sausage sandwich with fries from Windy City Hot Dogs, not the best Plan B, I have to admit.


  3. Something to consider! 'Why testing 'everygoddamnone' is so critical!' If you don't know who has the disease, so you don't know who is sick, or who can spread the decease, and not even know it! Medicine and Science use statistics to determine who and where the disease is and where it may be spreading faster! If you don't know those numbers and statistics, it spreads, exponentially, unchecked and unknown! Unless you use fuzzy-math, bad-science or 'alternative facts'! Sound familiar? If you can, stay home for a few weeks, If you have to go out, limit any contact to as few people as possible, remain calm, don't panic, stay optimistic, don't be an alarmist, we'll get through this, TOGETHER! Read, talk, watch TV, exercise, keep moving, take a nap, write a letter to someone, email your Congress-person, tell them what's working and what's not working! Don't become prey to online scams and miracle cures, or send them money, take appropriate financial precautions. Call friends and neighbors on the phone, call your parents, if you're lucky enough to still have them, check on the elderly and those more at-risk, engage and reassure your kids, play games with them, tell them stories, love them and let them know it, tell them you love them! Keep your sense of humor! If you have teenagers...God bless you! (see what I mean about a sense of humor!?) Keep and practice your faith! And have everyone wash their hands 'often', even if you're all at home. A lot of us thought Y-2K was the end! This is a whole different ballgame, (what ballgames?) This is very different, and potentially much, much worse! Vote by mail or electronically as your life and future depend on it, it very well may! Real science, real medicine, faith, common sense and looking out for the other guy! Remember these times, and how we all got through it! It's what the 'Greatest Generation' would have and did, do! It's time for us to do the same!

  4. Finally I've accomplished something, joining the one percent. That is, breaking away from the 99% and being a part of the 1% that owns 50% of the world's toilet paper. You see in this world there are two kinds of people, those with toilet paper and those without. Okay millennials, a dystopian future will disabuse you of the notion that socialism is a worthwhile philosophy. Capitalism is where it's at, if you want a roll of toilet that will be $50, s'il vous plaît. In the end you will realize that you have to look out for number 2.

    1. "Capitalism is where it's at, if you want a roll of toilet that will be $50, s'il vous plaît. In the end you will realize that you have to look out for number two..."

      Now THAT is some funny shit! When I read it, I laughed my ass off! (Sorry...couldn't resist either one of those...)

      There is an old R. Crumb comic strip (c. 1970) that reads: "Dope will get you through times of no money a lot better than money will get you through times of no dope." Our county library (Cuyahoga County, OH) substituted "libraries" for the word "dope" and used that as a campaign slogan to get a tax levy passed. It worked.

      I guess we're going to find out what times of no libraries are like, as all of our city and county and libraries are closed for the duration, which, if you know your American history, is a WWII term that meant, "until whenever this mess ends."

      We have eleven overflowing bookcases. Maybe, in the end (nyuk nyuk), they will get us through these perilous times of no toilet paper, in one fashion or another. [smirk]

      Incidentally, don't try to flush any substitutes for TP, or you will be very, very sorry. Put the TP substitute in a bag and then place the bag in an outdoor METAL garbage can, with a tightly closed lid. When it becomes necessary, hold your nose, remove the lid, pour some gasoline into the can, and toss in a lighted match.

      But what the hey...look at the bright side...the days of TP-ing suburban houses now belong to history.

  5. I finally found toilet paper at a convenience store, gas station and was happy to pay extra.

  6. We played a family game of Pandemic last night and won for a change. I’ll take that as a good sign.

  7. I have bookshelves loaded with volumes I haven't got around to yet, so I guess this is the time. It seems the most practical choice over the long run among the three cited in this little poem by that famous author 'Anonymous.'

    "When your light is on all night
    You're either reading
    Or your dead.
    Or you're having fun in bed."


  8. I'm baffled by all the bread buying. It's either going to go stale or if they store it in the freezer, it's so bulky, it will take up all the space.
    As for the toilet paper, do they think the paper mills will shut down?

  9. Hope the run on the Library isn't connected to the dearth of TP at the stores.


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