I can remember when I was bulletproof. Nothing could touch me. I had every intention of living forever in a world that was my own private domain of fantastic possibilities with no consequences.

Then, wholly unexpected and annoying things began happening — hospital, involuntary confinement, basic training, a bit more confinement, lots more hospital, etc.

Even so, I was a slow learner. Looking back, I can see lots of moments that should have scared me but didn’t until later when I became capable of abstract thought. Rough guess: About the time I got married.

Gradually, I awakened. It took time and effort — as it does with most morons — but I found myself understanding at least the fundamental concept of consequences.

“Eh, the cops might come. They did before.”

“Isn’t this how I ended up with pins in my shoulder?”

It would be lovely to say that maturity finally caught up with me, but we both know that isn’t true. I’m just slower, in pain, and more capable of weighing fun against fallout.

I’m old. I don’t mean older. Hell, all people are older than they were yesterday. I mean I’m actually old. My body is full of expensive consequences reminding me that fun comes with a price, which is why I take the idea of quarantine as seriously as someone like me is capable.

Given this experience, I feel qualified to offer some wisdom to the young and immortal people of today.


Stop going to beaches, parades, nightclubs, parties and other places where people congregate with the idea of having a little innocent fun. There is no such thing right now.

If you don’t believe me — and I fully understand why you wouldn’t — believe U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who says the coronavirus is spreading because many people, especially young people, are not abiding by the guidance to stay home and practice social distancing.

I know what you’re thinking. “I’m young. Even if I get COVID-19, I probably won’t die. Death is totally like for boomers and other geezers.”

Trust me when I tell you that death may not be the troublesome part. It’s living with the consequences that could be horrible. Yeah, you might not die if you get COVID-19. But nobody is certain of the long-term effects of contracting it. How does your young body feel about spending the rest of your life with only 30% lung capacity?

And while we’re on the subject of idiot logic, God won’t save you from COVID-19 if you show up en masse at the airport to collect your returning missionaries despite the warning not to congregate by someone you consider to be a prophet.

Again, I know what you’re thinking. “Hey, it’s my life.”

No, it’s not. It’s everyone’s life. That’s what the young and dumb don’t understand. Other people end up paying for your irresponsibility.

Whether it’s an old fire extinguisher filled with black powder and buried a “safe” distance from the house (in the backyard), or coming home infected with COVID-19 because you were bored and wanted to have fun with your besties. Both stand a chance of making a way bigger hole in your life than you previously thought.

So, if we can’t actually be smart, we can at least pretend by just staying home.

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