In disaster movies, whenever Armageddon is approaching, people suddenly get very busy. They run around frantically packing their bags, rounding up their family members, taking care of unfinished business, and falling in love with Ben Affleck.
But movies are not reality. What I have learned in the past week is that the approach of Armageddon involves a lot of waiting in line and trying to keep up with WhatsApps from school. It’s not frantic or dramatic or glamorous. It is boring and slow, and Ben has yet to grace us with even a cameo appearance.
We wake up every day to a barrage of questions: Who has tested positive? When were they last seen in public? What kind of testing needs to happen? Where is it being offered? And what will I make for dinner?
And that is what feels fundamentally unfair. The world is both falling apart before our eyes, and stubbornly continuing to endure. So we now live in this limbo of having to worry about existential issues: Are the hospitals filling up? How are my children going to get an education? Is there going to be another variant? While simultaneously worrying about everyday matters: Did I forget to buy bananas? It’s just too much. I can either worry about what’s for dinner or Armageddon. The universe has got to pick one.
The news is scary and the numbers are confusing. The data is inconclusive. The tests are fallible. But the most frightening thing in all of this is the generalized feeling of doom that has begun circling like hungry children at dinner time.
It’s the doom that’s so unsettling. And there seems to be no escape from it. While at the store picking up the forgotten bananas, I noticed that I couldn’t find the crackers we like. And while that is not unusual, I started to wonder if perhaps this was one of those shortages that everyone was worried about. Has it begun? Must I suddenly learn to navigate a world devoid of crackers? Is life without crackers even worth the effort? Or should I just forget about it because the end is most likely nigh?
I asked one of my coworkers if there was a department meeting scheduled for later this week. She gave me a sympathetic look as if to say, ‘well, technically, but who knows, with Armageddon and all…’.
And when my husband and I were trying to figure out which of us would need the car this week, the conversation went like this, ‘Wait, yesterday was Monday, so today is the 11th, which means tomorrow is probably Armageddon. Also, can you make sure to stop at the pharmacy?’
This morning I found myself thinking, ‘I was going to make spaghetti tonight, and save the salmon for tomorrow, but I think the salmon would pair nicely with Armageddon…’
Omicron has made it impossible to plan and impractical not to worry. But my life necessitates both preparation and heavy denial, so how am I to proceed?
The answer is salmon.
Armageddon may come, bringing millions of cases, virtual school, and cracker shortages. Or it may not. It may come tomorrow or next month. Or it may not. There are no guarantees except that the children and their mother will be hungry. Even Armageddon knows that we all gotta eat. And so tonight I’m making salmon.
And the following night we will have spaghetti. And then I’ll make pizza. And if you even think about asking me what we’re having next I will throw used Antigen testing swabs at you because surely Armageddon wouldn’t be so cruel as to make us wait longer than that to freakin get here!
The menu for Armageddon is obviously salmon – I’ll make an extra piece, because Ben is bound to show up at some point. And I’ll serve bananas, because now we have plenty. Also chocolate-covered pretzels. Because they are delicious, they will distract us from our lack of crackers, and they were on sale. Armageddon may be nigh, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be thrifty.