Staff Columnist

COVID cancels spring break. But how about a garage prom?

One of many cheeky chalk notes my daughter and a friend made Tuesday, hoping they would cheer up walkers passing our hom
One of many cheeky chalk notes my daughter and a friend made Tuesday, hoping they would cheer up walkers passing our home.

So your columnist and his family are back from spring break. The weather in Florida was lovely all week.

I know this only because Sanibel Island is on my weather app. We were nowhere near the state or the island or the beach. The closest we got to the Sunshine State was a glass of O.J. Spiked, likely.

Instead of acquiring our first sunburn of the year, we stayed home, sheltering in place as the world burned. Each day we pondered all the big questions. How bad would the COVID-19 pandemic get? Would we get sick, and how sick? Where are the tests? Would our health care system buckle? Would our governing institutions continue to dither and flail? Would our society come unraveled?

Also, what’s for dinner?

On the bright side, we did not go hungry. I made feasts. Grilled, roasted, fried and stewed. Pork butts, Guinness stew, steak fajitas and chickens. So many chickens. There’s something comforting in taking on controllable tasks when outside forces are out of our control. We also ordered takeout from empty restaurants in need of a boost.

Stuffing your face takes the mind off anxieties, or at least stops you from talking about them.

My senior daughter is wondering whether that prom dress she bought will have a dance to match. Oh, and her graduation is in limbo. Also, the first day of college in August. She’s a consumer of news and a realist who understands the big picture. People all over the world have much, much bigger problems.

Still, this sucks.

I told her if prom is canceled, we can hold a small but festive affair in our garage. I’m already working on possible themes: “A Night Among Stacked Rubbermaid Totes” or “Stairway to the Snow Blower.” Maybe “Dancing Under the Light of the Garage Door Opener” or “Cool Breezes from the Chest Freezer.” It’s a work in progress, obviously.

We cleaned out cupboards and reorganized clutter while the coronavirus cleaned out public places and reorganized our lives. My younger daughter painted her room, switching from little girl pink to a much more grown-up gray. Seemed entirely appropriate. We shopped online. Surely a new green comforter will bring us some comfort.


But now, it’s back to work. I commuted all the way from my overstuffed chair to the dining room table, where my laptop sits. No big deal, I write most of my columns and editorials at this very perch. Nice view of kids riding along the sidewalk at a safe social distance.

What we’re writing about has changed dramatically. New pressing issues have stormed in, stuff we thought was so important two weeks ago is out. The Legislature temporarily closed up shop. A silver lining, perhaps.

Issue one now is watching how our elected leaders at all levels lead us through this crisis, or fail to do so. Will they summon courage to do what’s necessary to protect as many as possible, to “flatten the curve” of illness growth, or will they blink, and listen to impatient naysayers? Will they be proactive or react when it’s too late? Too late is barreling toward us. It’s a moment of truth.

Meanwhile, stay home, if you can. Figure out what’s for dinner.

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