We’ve been stuck at home, staring mournfully out the window for four months. We’ve read all the books on our list, watched more fantasy movies than Xi Jinping could ever dream up, and spent entire days doing every possible domestic pastime, including throwing broccoli in the backyard, boxing with annoying neighbors, and simulating a beach in the living room with a little help from some sawdust, a high-powered light bulb, and a puddle of water. Prisoners to boredom, we’ve even done sports at home, which has left the living room smelling of dead deer after turning our spinning pedals obsessively like a hamster would in a wheel. We’ve wasted more time than we ever dreamed of wasting. We’ve drunk our livers into a state likening Britney Spears’ brain. And we’ve had a lifetime’s worth of family rows. How the hell do you expect us to go on vacation now?
But you can’t fish this year either. I went a few weeks ago, and, as incredible as it may seem, the fish come without a mask. Who knows where they were last night.
So your plan is for us to pack our bags, squeeze the entire family, pets included, into the car, dress up like Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I., put the bike, the canoe, the inflatable crocodile, and the skis — in case the cold kicks in — on the rack, drive for 20 hours on roads crawling with idiots like us, arrive at the front desk of a hotel full of Chinese tourists, chew on a handful of sublingual anxiety pills while waiting in line, check in, and lock ourselves in the room with a mask on for about three weeks, swimming only in hydroalcoholic gel, while we look out the window at everyone enjoying the beach with their masks on? The plan is about as attractive as trying to get drunk on non-alcoholic beer.
Now at the beach you have to keep social distance, and that seems like good news for those of us who already kept it when it wasn’t mainstream. I’ve noticed that this year the masks are bigger than most of the bikinis, and that’s a new milestone in the history of swimwear manufacturers, the only ones able to spend less and less on raw materials while raising the price higher and higher. If this trend continues, we will soon be coming across “bikini wanted” posters. “It was a green and white, Victoria’s Secret number, born in 2020. Last seen on Monday, amidst the flesh of a bather on the shore.”
Bikinis aside, I’m intrigued as to why people think you can’t catch COVID on the beach. The same people who are scared to death when someone brushes their arm at the supermarket, to which they go with three masks and a NASA-made space suit, go to the beach without any protection whatsoever, walk on the sand, make faces at other people’s children, place their umbrella half a centimeter away from other sunbathers, and joyfully and energetically cough before and after choosing their ice cream in the line at the beach bar. Guys like that are everywhere. So the beach doesn’t look like a great destination this summer either, except maybe when it rains.
Days of tedium and laziness loom ahead. You’ve already tried everything you can by the end of the confinement, and it all went wrong. Shopping is crazy, homemade barbecues have lost all their fun with no friends to get drunk with and no enemies to roast, and the most exciting thing that happens during televised sports without an audience is the PCR test.
On my street there is a company that offers extreme adventures for the summer. I don’t know, they throw you off cliffs, beat the soles of your feet with a cobra, or lock you up in a cave with no food in Nepal or any other communist country you only go on vacation to when you have enough money to be able to spend the year giving anti-capitalist lectures between Paris and New York. These guys offer you the world. Extreme sports, survival trips, and terrifying plans that can cause you erectile dysfunction for the next six months at the very least, assuming you escape amputation.
I see a lot of people at this extreme adventure travel agency lining up for a bad time on their holidays, and I wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper for them, if they really wanted to do something dangerous and wild, to spend a morning shopping at a seaside mall.
As a kid I loved to go fishing. But you can’t do that this year either. I went a few weeks ago, and, as incredible as it may seem, the fish come without a mask. Who knows where they were last night. There’s nothing you can do about it. Riding a bike with an N-95 is as healthy as trying to yawn underwater, rural tourism is fascinating until you discover that time passes too slowly in the countryside, and visiting an amusement park this August is a good idea, but only if you feel like dying of vertigo and coronavirus at the same time.
We’ve spent too many months figuring out what to do when we’re home alone. And in the face of the imminent risk of a holiday, I’ve come to a conclusion, and — I never thought I would say this — it is that we need to work. We urgently need to get up early, rush out of the house, get home late, be in a bad mood all day, and get our asses kicked by the boss. We need to spend hours in front of the computer and drown in to-dos. I don’t know, eating on our feet, standing in a windowless hallway, going up and down the building a thousand times, paying traffic fines for parking illegally, and breathing in a cloud of polluted city smog.
We cannot go on with this healthy living BS, remote working, going for walks around the garden, taking time to cook, and taking seven-hour naps every afternoon. We need something important and urgent on our hands that takes us far away from home, before everyone starts recording TikToks to show us how they change their clothes in the corridor by snapping their damn fingers.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau
Illustration by Iñigo Navarro Dávila