At first, comparing the coronavirus quarantine to the “Blizzard of ‘78” was easy enough for this father of two.
They had initially been told they’d be out of school for two weeks (which, as of this writing was still the case), and that was pretty much how much time off yours truly got thanks to that record snowfall back when I was a snot-nosed 11-year-old.
Being “stuck in the house,” after all, does not exist if said house is an absolute blast. How could a place that offers up so much joy ever be one that you could feel “stuck in?”
I regaled them with tales of marathon hands of the popular card game Uno! and board games like Sorry! and Clue. The snow itself, sitting atop every roof and car and streetlight as far as the eye could see, glittered as if it were ornamental, thus turning it into something worth gazing at in its own right.
The house smelled like sausage and peppers, and garlic and meatballs and so many other pungent aromas the entire time, and pajamas had suddenly stopped being this outfit you fought to keep on longer. It was your uniform.
Until it wasn’t.
See, we did eventually get to go outside. We ventured out pretty darn quick, as a matter of fact. Some of us were told to, and some of us simply could not be stopped. In some neighborhoods there were snowball fights that lasted entire days, snowmen built that — in this Instagram day and age — would have turned a regular, neighborhood kid into a “social influencer.”
I can vividly recall coming in after an action-packed day in the snow, only to yank off my boots, watch clumps of snow and ice tumble onto the floor, and then place my frozen feet on the radiator hissing in the den, my sister Julie right next to me, a hissing sound produced that was either the radiator, the ice, our feet, or all of the above.
On day two of our “Coronavirus quarantine,” I told my kids these stories and they listened as intently as today’s youth possibly could — interested, to be sure, but their gadgets going off in their hands, a constant beckoning from cyberspace to pay attention to what was going on with their friends or favorite celebrities.
By day number three of “Coronavirus Quarantine” they were the ones telling me stories. Stories of friends who felt like prisoners - whose parents wouldn’t even allow them outside the house simply to walk down the driveway to check the mailbox. Heck, my daughter spoke of a friend who got read the riot act because she did just that, due to a mutual acquaintance leaving a copy of a book she’d said she’d like to read during the shutdown. Poor kid just jogged to the end of her driveway for literature and got verbal lashing from both mom and dad. That is, after her brother ratted on her.
Catch is, her grandparents live with them. And this coronavirus beast likes the elderly. Which we were all being told. Over and over. How could she be so insensitive?
Obviously, I jest. I immediately felt for the young lady, who surely would never want anything to happen to her grandparents, and who was in way over her head, like we all were. And still are.
My daughter wanted me to be the dad, who’d join her in mocking such a stringent “house game plan.” I wasn’t. Not fully anyway. See, I was too busy mocking those who were just going about life as usual, hitting bars and restaurants and gyms. The disconnect made zero sense to my teenager, and little more than that to me. Now she was the poor kid. All I had to offer her were memories of the “Blizzard of ‘78.” Some comparison.
My kids had some friends getting together at one friends’ house, while others were absolutely, positively not allowed to leave theirs. They were hopelessly caught in the middle.
My story about how I wound up at one girl’s house who I didn’t really even know back in ‘78, and her mother made my friend and me eggs to eat only confounded them. We can’t go anywhere but you were going to stranger’s houses?
“Snow and ice will thaw,” surely nestled itself in that back of our pre-teen heads, even while the rumor mill churned out talk of the school year being extended until Independence Day. Yeah, that was never going to happen.
Then that same rumor mill — alive and well today, and forevermore — began churning out talk of their school year probably being officially over. There’d be no return. (Again, as of this writing, this was all still a very — ahem — fluid situation.) My eighth grader would have no eighth grade graduation, and my high school junior no prom. Her friends who are seniors would not get sent off in a way that every single class at BHS had in all its years prior.
We sat before our television in the living room talking about all of this, in front of a screen the ‘78 me would have told you could never possibly exist, Disney-Plus and Netflix and all of these other “streaming services” offering up brand new movies as this consolation prize of sorts to the teens of 2020.
I tried to tell my kids it was a solid one. I really did. I was getting “Happy Days” and “Mork & Mindy” reruns for that little stretch of time the snow stopped the world for two weeks in 1978. They were lucky, I told them. They weren’t buying.
Then my daughter saw that “Frozen 2” was already streaming on Disney-Plus. They had decided to move up the release date of the hit sequel three months to accommodate a country — a world — of young shut-ins. And their parents.
All was well for the next hour and 43-minutes. More than well. As Elsa (thanks to the amazing vocals of Idina Menzel) sang “Into The Unknown” I realized just how into it we really were.