A reader weighs in on New Jersey’s stay-at-home existence through the lens of the Velvet Underground.
By Robert M. Kelley | May 9, 2020
What strange times we’re living in.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”
For us, it is always Sunday morning, just after dawn, when you couldn’t sleep, and you drove to the Wawa for some items you didn’t really need; and the lot was empty, and so were the streets.
It could be midday, but the light still looks odd with so few cars about and nearly all storefronts empty and dark. A few people are around, but their faces are covered, and they avoid eye contact.
“Sunday morning/ brings the dawn in/ it’s just a restless feeling by my side”
Then you return home, and take the stuff inside, and glance back at your neighbors two doors down in their front yard with the dog and kid. You decide against another shouting conversation from 20 feet away. No one ever has anything new to say anyway.
There’s almost limitless time to work on those projects you’d never had time for before: writing a new song, or reading a story in that book you always carried on flights but never read more than a few pages of each time.
But with no one but your spouse to share these things with, it all seems so pointless.
“Early dawning/ Sunday morning / It’s just the wasted years so close behind“
It’s like being in the hospital, when you were so bored Dr. Phil was the high point of your day.
But wait! The dog is barking at a squirrel in the backyard! This is truly epic!
Having a dog is suddenly a huge boon because taking said dog for a long walk is the focal point of your day. What did you accomplish today? I walked my dog.
Everyone’s dog is in heaven because their humans are home almost all the time now. We’re all on that universal canine wavelength.
The food arrives in boxes and bags in front of the door.
You talk to people over the Internet … or, sometimes, the phone.
You picture them starting to look like Howard Hughes, and your own fingernails are getting scandalously long.
You consciously try to emulate Hughes’ germophobia.
You toy with the idea of building a preposterously big airplane from found objects.
The list of “the next time I see (fill in the blank), I’m gonna say … ” items becomes so long that you forget which statements are appropriate for which people.
“Early dawning/ Sunday morning/ It’s all the streets you crossed not so long ago”
Amazingly, all of the appliances and devices keep working beautifully. No clogged toilet. No dead refrigerator or washing machine. The TV works. You have speedy Internet access.
You’re in relatively good shape financially because your employer retired you a little early, and you had already been surviving on a fixed income anyway, camped out in your paid-off house like a couple of renegade bears that took it over.
You worry about your friends in the gig economy in Philly. Cash-only bartenders with no bars; musicians with no gigs. It appears they can’t be evicted for non-payment of rent, and there must be humanitarian food drops there.
Shades of all those folks you heard about in Baltimore being raised on government cheese. We’re all surviving on government cheese now, in a manner of speaking, and we better eat it, and we damn sure better like it. It was good enough for Mom and Dad in the Great Depression.
Speaking of which, is this the Great Depression Redux? Or is it some weird mash-up of Blade Runner and The Road Warrior? Should we be walking around with grappling hooks slung over our shoulders, and crossbows?
You tired long ago of streaming live music performances from your bedroom, even though you’ve been told they bring great joy to your isolated friends. You mostly stop caring about bringing joy to anyone, least of all yourself.
You’re tempted to donate through Venmo to make your friends’ streaming concerts stop.
Make it stop!
Make it all stop!
Watch out/ the world’s behind you
There’s always someone around you who will call/ It’s nothing at all
Sunday morning/ Sunday morning/ Sunday morning
It’s always Sunday morning.
(Robert M. Kelley is a former newspaper copy editor.)
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