After reading all day about fears of spreading COVID-19 cases in the U.S., disruption of everything from financial markets to schools to sporting events, and continuing failures in basic testing both locally and nationally, I badly needed something to lighten the mood.
On cue, in came a text message from a friend with a photo of the iconic tails of Hawaiian Airlines jets that some wag had updated so the lovely island ladies with the big red orchids behind their ears were also sporting hospital masks.
It gave me a good laugh, and I was grateful for the relief.
I felt the same way later when I came across a new song by Frank De Lima, Hawaii’s comic laureate, called “Corona, Corona,” based on the old blues classic “Corrine, Corrina.”
De Lima not only offered laughs, but filled his verses with helpful tips about preparing for the coronavirus — “Corona, Corona, no it’s not the beer; it’s a virus that’s here, share facts, not fear.” (You can listen at frankdelima.com.)
I don’t know why humor is such a comfort in our most challenging times, but it always is. Maybe there’s just no stronger feeling of control over the dark forces we face than still being able to laugh about them.
Except perhaps the powerful control of having enough toilet paper in your garage to blanket your neighbors’ houses with it for the next five Halloweens.
I must admit I don’t entirely get this one. My wife has been to Costco twice recently and reports long lines to even get into the toilet paper aisle, not to mention the even longer lines at the register to check out and pay for the hoard. Here and elsewhere, there have been reports of fights and shoppers brazenly stealing toilet paper from fellow shoppers’ carts.
I can understand stocking up on face masks, hand sanitizer, Spam, bottled water and medicine, but why the obsession with toilet paper? It’s such a major investment in Hawaii, where we pay more for four rolls than any other state, according to the financial website MoneyRates.
If we’re being honest, TP is more of a convenience than an absolute necessity if you have running water, soap and a washcloth — or even a crumpled newspaper, depending on the ink bleed of your local gazette.
A newspaper in Australia, where stores have hired extra security to patrol toilet paper aisles, reportedly printed eight extra pages to help out readers running short on rolls.
I guess we’ll have to let the mystery be on the toilet paper run and be thankful that if there weren’t toilet paper hoarders, we wouldn’t be able to comfort ourselves by joking about toilet paper hoarding to distract from a nasty virus moving in on us.
Reach David Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.