As I gaze upon the devastated valley below from the balcony of my Mount Winchester estate, eating the last chicken wing that my beleaguered manservant Roger was able to scrounge at our depleted local Costco, I mourn for the America we’ve lost.
When the COVID-19 crisis first began, I thought it might last two weeks, three tops. But now, as the long misery kicks in, it’s become apparent to me that we live in the worst time in the worst country in the history of the world. Nothing can redeem us. Waves of sickness will wash over the population for the next two years as everything we love vanishes in a tide of despair.
Through my research and my observation of Twitter, I must conclude we live in a failed state, a failed country, and, most likely, a failed city as well. This is the darkest timeline. You must not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Seemingly rational people cannot persuade you that things are going to be the way they were before the crisis began. Elements of society that you once loved, such as wrestling, baseball, movies, walking outside, and food, are gone forever. What replaces them is up to us or, more accurately, our governors.
As this disease weakens us, it also strengthens us. As it pulls us apart, it also brings us together. We must all learn what it is like to eat disinfected cardboard soaked in a little soy sauce and to live in perpetual fear of people who look happy. Because of our lax government response to the disease, and the lack of antibody tests that may or may not be accurate, this is the reality in which we live. We must isolate the tested, test the isolated, and stun children at the playground with laser drones.
None of that should cause you to despair. Now is the time for you to be prepared, along with all of us, together. We must be steadfast and brave. And bravery means staying at home forever.
If you do one thing wrong during this pandemic, you will die. Eating food from a restaurant will kill you immediately. If you see someone with whom you don’t live, you will increase your chances of dying by 70 percent. And if you must bring food home that you don’t grow yourself, you must automatically douse it in chemicals. But don’t inject those chemicals, or you will die.
I personally know three people who have died and three more people who know someone who’s died. My editor died, albeit in 2008. I, myself, have already died twice. Joyce Carol Oates has not died and never will. My beleaguered manservant Roger was so sick, he couldn’t cook for me for nearly 18 days. That was almost the greatest tragedy of all.
As I write this, 1 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus. As you read this, that number will be 2 million, or 22 million, or possibly even 122 million. Every one of those people will die someday. Death stalks us all, like an angry horse. We must always be afraid.
Today, I choose to live in fear. If you don’t choose that, then you’re making the wrong choice, or maybe you’ve chosen to live in Texas, the worst choice of all. Either way, you’re in big trouble, mister. Civilization as we know it has come to an end. Jump on an exercise trampoline for 15 minutes a day. Do your pushups. Eat your vitamins. It is all we have left. There are no more restaurants. There is no more pizza.
We will never be safe until it is safe to be safe. And it never will be safe, ever. If you understand that, you’ll be better prepared for the tough decades ahead.
I am an important person, The Greatest Living American Writer, and I just want you all to understand what I have said today.
There are reasons for hope. And also no reasons for hope.
This is my message to you.