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Robert Kirby: What the coronavirus could take from me

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby

On Sunday, most of the people at church touched elbows instead of shaking hands. They laughed it off, of course, but it was certainly an acknowledgment that there might come a day when we should avoid physical contact with one another.

It’s the coronavirus. I’m not sure how alarmed I should be about it. It’s probably more than I am, which is not at all.

As I write this, 22 people have died from the virus in the U.S. Twice that number were killed by drunken drivers just last weekend. Most of us stand a better chance of wandering into a mass shooting than we do catching COVID-19, and those who do stand a better than fair chance of surviving it.

But I can’t ignore that I fall within the most endangered demographics of a virus that, according to a highly excitable news media, is depopulating the planet.

I was born during the Eisenhower administration, and I have — depending on whom you ask — moderate to severe underlying health issues. Since most of the latter have to do with mental health, I’m not sure they count.

No matter. If I contract COVID-19, there’s a good chance I’ll die. Not all of the news is this happy, though. Before I actually catch it, I may have to endure all manner of inconveniences, not the least of which is procuring two of life’s most important items.

If you’re thinking toilet paper and bottled water, you are well informed but nonetheless wrong. The two most important elements of life — for me — are time with my family and blowing stuff up. These are items not sold on store shelves.

Speaking of which, if you’re among those buying up all the toilet paper, pause for a moment and consider that no amount of toilet paper will take care of being full of crap.

Spending time with my family members would require inconvenient safeguards so as not to infect them. My grandchildren come home from school with all kinds of STDs — snot-transmitted diseases — that are rife in classrooms.

If any of us end up with the coronavirus, we would have to interact considerably less intimately. For example, my youngest granddaughter wouldn’t be able to sit in my lap and listen to thrilling stories about my battles with a merciless monster known as “The Grimmy.”

Ada • “And did The Grimmy give you this scar?”

Me • “No, that’s from — well, I can’t remember. The ones from The Grimmy are all on the back of my head.”

As for the second thing, you probably wouldn’t understand. But large explosions might come in handy if I get tired of living while being sick. Sonny has already promised to help as long as he doesn’t have to be in the immediate area when the problem is resolved.

I have survived many epidemics in my misspent life — scarlet fever, measles, polio, various forms of flu, and even the dreaded military draft.

None of that means I’m immune. It would be just my luck to catch the coronavirus. And as statistics stand right now, I might also get hit by a car filled with heavily intoxicated clowns.

Either way, I suppose I should be careful.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.

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