Robert Kirby: When social distancing turns to sorrow

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby

There are a lot of people I don’t miss because of social quarantine. In fact, I can get along just fine without most people. This includes people with whom I only have an electronic relationship.

I once had a healthy morning and evening relationship with well-known news heads. Not anymore. I’ve grown weary of listening to the “we’re all going to die” tone of the news. It’s depressing, which leads to annoyance, followed closely (in my case) by fantasies of crime.

To fend off this miserable condition, I’m setting a personal media quarantine. It’s not 100%. I’ll still peruse this newspaper, and watch the local news stations to see what else I need to be doing to help, but enough with the constant national calls to “bring out your dead.”

Understandably, it will be a long time before things return to anything resembling normal. In the meantime, most of us have already given up a lot.

Before the virus even hit, I was forbidden to fire off anything big in the backyard. Since social distancing took hold, I can’t even travel to some remote place with Sonny and shoot cannons. Too many people will find out and come along. Someone is bound to become infected (or wounded).

What I really miss are my grandkids. They’re the ones who keep my spirits up and remind me that I should behave myself just enough to see them whenever I want.

For many grandparents, missing their grandkids is a constant condition because they live so far away. I’m lucky in that all nine of mine live within a couple of miles, which means they are an integral part of my life. I’ve never had to miss them before.

It’s not all bad. Three of my grandkids live upstairs, so I’m a part of their daily lives and can answer important life questions for them.

Tate • “Papa, how many werewolves have you shot?”

Hallie • “First you have to promise not to tell my mom.”

Gage • “Who the heck is Eric Clapton?”

As for the other six grandkids, they might as well be on the far side of the moon for all we get to see of them. We used to spend a lot of time at their sports and music events. Not anymore. Everything has been canceled.

When the grandkids whom I’m not quarantined with drop by, it’s mostly looking at one another through the glass while something is either picked up or dropped off. That’s no kind of relationship.

That doesn’t mean the relationships can’t continue. It just means we have to improvise. I have several “stepgrandkids” from my Latter-day Saint congregation whom I rarely see now that church has been put on hold.

This doesn’t mean I can’t have a relationship with them. I wait for Ethan and Ryan to go into their backyard and then I shoot jelly beans at them out of a Wrist Rocket.

Note: It’s long-range shooting, so I haven’t hit either of them. Yet. But it’s only a matter of time before I get the angles just right. At least then they’ll know I’m thinking about them.

Emails, texts, phone calls and waving from the street just don’t cut it. I need people around me who actually need me — even if I’m a bad in-flu-ence.

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