Fighting a Virus That’s Gone Viral
by
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I wake up so peacefully. I’ve forgotten about the crisis, the coronavirus and everything about the blasted situation. So I’m a little shocked when I stumble into the living room, one eye still stuck shut, my pajamas twisted uncomfortably into any crevice my body can offer them, and stump my toe on a pallet loaded with canned peaches. I’ll admit that yesterday’s shopping was a little on the compulsive side. Especially considering my peach allergy. So I ask Amazon Alexa how to make boiler fuel from peaches in syrup. She responds with, “Calling the A-Team, sucker.” She can’t do much, but she can do sarcasm just fine. A bit like a mother-in-law.

A strict schedule and strong self-discipline will keep me productive at home this morning. I sit down with a pile of six Schopenhauer books on the table before me. Then I put a mug of coffee on top of the books and my feet on the table and begin checking messages on my cell phone. When I’ve finished, it’s time for lunch.

Read Day 1 of the Corona Diaries here!

Mid-afternoon I find myself musing over what seems to me to be a crucial issue: we are fighting a virus that’s gone viral. And we’re all trying to stop it with a hashtag. I call an American colleague: “See if you can top that,” I tell him. I’ve spent a good part of the afternoon thinking seriously about the coronavirus. I can’t get my head around it. Some of us have made a herculean effort to stop smoking, so that now, instead of being killed by a refined and tasteful cigarette, we can be wiped out by a bloody bug that looks like full-stop getting an electric shock. I consider smoking a cigar. The TV flickers with images of mile-long queues of people waiting to be let into tobacco shops. Ditch the cigar. I’d rather bite the wires of a nuclear bomb right now than stand in line. That much hasn’t been changed by the virus.

I sit down to answer messages on the cell. I read that a pangolin has handed himself over to the police in Wuhan claiming to have the antidote for coronavirus: broccoli. I don’t know, Rick … Personally, I prefer to put my faith in toilet paper. According to the dining room clock it’s 10 o’clock at night. Time for dinner. I reach for the Schopenhauer books. Tomorrow I think I’ll dig into the complete works of Paulo Coelho. For dinner, I mean. Don’t expect me to read any of that. There’s only so much a man can stomach.

As the day comes to a close, I haven’t had a single minute’s rest. I’ve been busy all day reading the diaries of guys who are stuck at home telling me how they’ve been reading the diaries of guys who are stuck at home all day. Time for bed. I get a WhatsApp message from an acquaintance with a text and a video that I haven’t opened: “I bet these days, bored at home, you’ve been wondering how you can make your own craft beer.” I answer without bothering to finish reading it: “No. And stay away from the sauce.” He sends me the same message again. This time I retort, “No, but I wouldn’t mind the recipe for your mother’s craft mashed potato.” A while later his reply comes through: “Ask Alexa.” Right.

After reading the latest WHO document on best health practices, I get up to go to the bathroom. You have to wash your hands every time you touch a doorknob or a tap. I close the bathroom door behind me. I need to pee. That’s information for all the investigative journalists who read me. Once I’ve relieved myself, I turn the tap and wash my hands.

Then I grab the doorknob. I freeze, with consternation befitting someone trying to decipher the formula for magnetic fields from rectilinear currents. Then turning around, I turn the tap again and give my hands another wash. With a nice circular motion of elbows, like chopsticks spinning a pea in a rice bowl, I turn the tap off.

Then I grab the doorknob. I freeze again, as if trying to remember the name of the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest winner. I turn around, turn on the tap, wash my hands. I’ve mastered the elbow maneuver this time. In two months I reckon I’ll be able to make watches with them. Back to bed. I grab the doorknob. Shit. Shit. Frozen, staring at the door again, this time reflecting on the functionality of Kant’s categorical ethical imperative. I turn around. I turn on the tap. I wash my hands. Turn the tap off. Yes! By now I’m more skilled with my elbows than any with any other limb, or my brain for that matter. For a moment, I dance a jig in the mirror. Back to bed.

I grab the doorknob. I can’t believe it. Turned on the tap. Damn myself to hell. Wash my hands. Getting slightly annoyed. I need to break this cycle. Maybe Alexa can help. She tells me to sleep in the shower. I spare a thought for the uncountable Spaniards locked in the bathroom, sleeping in the shower tonight. All because they wanted to follow the WHO’s advice to the letter. My prayers go out to you.

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 Federalist, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, as well as a columnist at 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

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