Landscape | Fall 2020 Issue

“A Lighter Look” – A Community of One

Rick Meyer's regularly appearing column takes a lighter look at politics and public affairs around the world. This month: Solitaire

By Richard E. Meyer

FOR MY BARBECUE IN THE BACK YARD, I brought my own food. One hot dog. One hamburger. One dip for the chips. It was OK to double-dip. I saved the paper plate and the plastic knife, fork and spoon. I could use them again. After I cleaned the grill, I played solitaire.

The next day, I went back to food that fit under the door.

I planned my next trip based on recommendations I found on the Internet: I’d visit Las Kitchenas, Costa del Bathrrome. St. Balonica. La Rotanda de Sofa, Santa Bedroome and El Bed.

Isolation — was it lonely, or was it just me?

We’ve learned many things from the coronavirus pandemic. At the top of my list is how to be by myself. I was serious about sheltering in place, and I’ll never forget what it was like to be a community of one.

You can make a speech to yourself. No podium, microphone or stage required. You don’t have to dress up. You don’t have to dress at all.

You can deliver the speech in the shower.

Or you can sing in the shower. Nobody will complain.

Indeed, you don’t even have to shower. Or shave. Or get a haircut.

It’s a thrill when Amazon delivers your deodorant.

You can tell bad jokes, known as Dad jokes. As usual, nobody laughs, but nobody groans either. That’s because nobody is there.

At dinner, you can wear a tie. Dangle it in your soup. Nobody will notice. You can spread hummus on both sides of your bread and strawberry jam on everything else. For dessert, you can eat a bag of Doritos. No one will say a word.

You can let the dishes pile up. You can nap for as long as you like. You can refuse to make your bed.

You don’t have to vacuum, or you can vacuum all afternoon if you’re bored.

You can try ambitious things that you’ve always wanted to do: Read War and Peace. Nobody will interrupt. Or memorize Marc Antony’s eulogy for Julius Caesar. If you muff a line, who will know?

You can talk to a squirrel on your front lawn and laugh at his response.

You can turn off news about tweet rants; stupidity is contagious. Tweet your own lies, insults and conspiracies. At least they’ll be intelligent.

Some things will happen naturally. You will remember fondly when making eye contact was possible — or hugging a friend, or high-fiving a stranger at a ballgame.

You will also think, not so fondly, of things that you are glad to be missing. The New Yorker offers these:

The Boston Symphony Orchestra Plays the Throat Noises of Rudy Giuliani.

Slide-Whistle Night at Yankee Stadium.

Uncle Ed’s Annual Garage Fudge Festival.

During times of peaceful silence, you will wonder what you were pursuing so desperately before the pandemic began.

Such quiet times are to be cherished.

You can use them to store a half dozen things in a time capsule to remind you of your self-quarantine, or you can binge-watch Netflix with a Costco-sized bucket of popcorn, or you can shop online for something you don’t really need, like a Costco-sized bucket of popcorn.

You also can play tic-tac-toe against yourself.

Or write down the things you did when you were alone. Nobody will think you’re crazy.

Richard E. Meyer

Richard E. Meyer

Meyer is the senior editor of Blueprint. He has been a White House correspondent and national news features writer for the Associated Press and a roving national correspondent and editor of long-form narratives at the Los Angeles Times.

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