By Anthony Deyal
“Mrs Brown,” the doctor said to the young lady he had just examined, “I have some good news for you.” “I always welcome good news,” the lady said. “However, I need to point out that I am ‘Miss’ Brown and not ‘Mrs’ Brown.” “In that case,” the doctor said, “Miss Brown, I have some bad news for you.” Then there is the time when a man heard a knock on his door, opened it, found a policeman standing there who said, “Sorry sir, it’s your wife. I have some bad news. Looks like she’s been hit by a truck.” The man replied, “She takes great care of the kids and has a fantastic personality though.”
I love “good news-bad news” jokes. They mirror life where few pleasures are without pains and upsides come with downsides for which you cannot always blame either the back- or front-sides. Sometimes, rarely, both sides of the coin come simultaneously but are not greeted with the same pleasure, enthusiasm and delight that accompany other such bed- and earth-shaking moments. For instance, when I was young one of my friends came to me and said abruptly, “I have two pieces of bad news for you.” I told him, “Best combine them.” He paused and then said, “Your girlfriend is cheating on both of us.”
There are also the “Doctor” jokes like the Miss Brown one but with other variations. The Doctor hands the patient some tablets and tells him, “Mr Jones, the bad news is you’re going to have to take one of these tablets every day for the rest of your life.” He paused, “The really bad news is that you only have to take three in all.” I consoled myself with the good news. Even Moses had problems taking his tablets. When he reached the bottom of Mt Sinai, he told the large and anxious gathering, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I got Him down to ten. The bad news is, adultery stays.”
Which brings us to Donald Trump. The good news is that he was instrumental in getting the Warp Speed project going and so expedited the production of anti-COVID vaccines. However, the scientific head of the operation, Moncef Slaoui, may have “punknowingly” vowed that “he will quit if politics trumps science.” The bad news is that in the meantime Trump and his initial condemnation of masks, his refusal to wear and support them at all times, his lies about guaranteed cures, and his refusal to concede the election to the overwhelming winner, Joe Biden, have been (and will be) seen as the cause of millions more people getting infected and many of them dying.
In many ways Trump has already Trumped science and the previously sacrosanct. On Wednesday this week, November 18, there were 11,698,124 registered or known COVID cases in the US with about two percent of them dying. There were only about 7 million recoveries. Nature Medicine predicts that by the time Joe Biden takes over on January 20 and hopefully settles in by February 28, 2021, at least 511,373 US citizens would have died from the virus.
Despite this, what continues to amaze me is how we humans use humour to cope with issues like COVID which, initially, was only bad news and now, even the good news is taking a while and will continue to lurk in the wings until Trump removes himself or is removed from office.
Natale Frank, a Clinical Psychologist and writer, has shared in Mental Gecko some of the Good News-Bad News about COVID. The good news is that those with cold symptoms just want to stay home in bed. The bad news is that those who think they have the virus decide to go gambling in Reno, enjoy the California beaches, take public transit just to get out and shop in every open business they can find. She points out that the good news is that it’s a Leap Year so there was an extra day in February. The bad news is that March turned out to be 600 days long and there’s no telling how long April, May or June will be. It was bad when she wrote this in April this year, but worse now since it seems to be an eternity before Trump leaves or the vaccine arrives and is used in the Caribbean.
What people all over the world have done is create new, relevant and sometimes funny words to, not just cope, but also describe some of the experiences, events and fears that COVID has inflicted on us. Not all of them are funny “ha-ha”. Some are funny “weird” and understandably strongly supported by Trump diehards. The worst of these is “Follow the breadcrumbs”, started by the anonymous “Q”. It means to follow the clues in the QAnon conspiracy the same way that Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs to find a way back home. While many people believe, and predict, they will lead its followers into rabbit holes, QAnon’s claims that Trump is waging a covert war against a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophile elites are strongly supported by his fanatical followers and cultists.
Those who are hooked on “Q” are “Sheeples” and already have the wool pulled over their eyes. They include “Plandemics” who believe that COVID-19 was planned by the elite. In Russia, the equivalent is the “Blue Lobby” which is a secret cabal of LGBTQs which supposedly controlled the country in Soviet times and is the reason Vladimir Putin is so actively homophobic.
At the commonplace level there are a bunch of “Maskholes” around, people who refuse to wear masks. They are part of the “Covidiot” crowd which also includes grocery-store hoarders and people who insist on shaking your hand every time you meet.
Corona has been shortened to “the ‘rona” and when the dumb idiots who reject the need to take precautions succumb, they have “Fattened the curve” of the “Moronavirus”.
“Doomscrolling” or “Doomsurfing” is when you have an insatiable appetite for news about COVID and other issues including the US presidential election and its aftermath, or just the maths about the number of deaths. “Quaranteam” are the people you hang within these days of confinement, and together you might have a Martini or other cocktail (“Quarantini”) during the “Locktail hour”. “Working from home” is “WFH” and home-stuck teens have their “Corona Baes,” they date virtually. They are “Coronials”. Positive news about the vaccine has created a bunch of “Apocaloptimists”. I sometimes forget what day it is so it’s a “Blursday”.
The one I find simultaneously funny and weird is the use of British Cockney rhyming slang in a new nom de plum for the virus. It is true the name they chose does rhyme with “Virus”, but I think there are people who, like me, have found it much more trouble than COVID. Would you believe “Miley Cyrus”?
*Tony Deyal, was last seen saying that while Trump is definitely a “Maskhole”, given how quickly his face gets red from his uncontrolled anger, he is also a “Damask”.