Posted in Dave Barry, zany, offbeat, somewhat silly humor

The Fine Art Of Quarantining (With Apologies To The Boomtown Rats)

Many people have already been through one or more quarantines since this Covid business started more than a year ago. It can be very challenging to be cooped up alone indoors for two weeks, especially if you don’t like the company. Fortunately there are loads of sites you can go to for help. As VP of the Altruism and Trivia Division of the Lateral Thinking Department, I decided to make a contribution to the Covid cause, so I thought up some suggestions to help people avoid going stark raving bonkers while quarantining.

Helpful Tip #1: Discover Your Inner Etymologist

Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how their meaning can change over time. It can be a fascinating pursuit. Take the word “journalism” for example. Yeah. Nah. On second thought scratch that.

Let’s go with “quarantine”. Quarantine dates back to 14th century Plague-swept Europe where Italian authorities in various cities hit on the notion of isolating incoming travelers for a trentino, or 30-day stretch of time. This was later extended to the quarantino or 40-day isolation period. Voila! A word is born.

Why thirty or forty days? Because that was about as long as people could stay cooped up before running out of toilet paper. Remember that there was no Alexa to turn to 700 years ago. Eventually the quarantino was extended again, to an even longer period known as a quentarantino or just tarantino. In Italian, that means: “long, complex, dark, possibly violent isolation period characterized by a shortage of toilet paper”. I could be lying about this.

If you have to quarantine I sincerely hope it isn’t long, complex, violent, or haunted by the looming spectre of running out of bog roll.

Bog roll. Taken from the 16th-century Scottish/Irish word meaning ‘soft and moist,’ bog means restroom or lavatory. Bog roll, naturally, is an idiom for toilet paper.”

Isn’t etymology fun?

Etymologist under quarantine thinking complex, violent, dark thoughts about Anthony Fauci

Helpful Tip #2: Build A Robotime Kit

To help your time in quarantine whiz by, you might think about building a Robotime Miniature Dollhouse kit. If you already built one, you should build another one: probably just not the same one you already built. There are lots to choose from. For the uninitiated, these are incredibly intricate kits from which you make unique, exquisitely-detailed rooms that collectively could be found in a dollhouse or maybe a Borrower-scale shopping plaza.

I wrote about Sam’s Study, the kit my daughter Alex and I assembled, in a previous post. Now we’re working on the Simon’s Coffee kit which is a gift that Alex gave me for Christmas, in retaliation for my giving her the Sam’s Study kit for her birthday. Family gift-giving can be long, complex and riddled with ulterior motives, some of them dark.

But hey, “turnabout is fair play” as the saying goes.

Notice the appropriate scale-model physical distance of the two chairs in the foreground. Notice also that I didn’t call it social distance.

Now repeat after me:
“The intentional separation of condensed matter (including human beings) in three-dimensional space is PHYSICAL DISTANCING NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING.”

Not that I’m bitter.

Our level of enthusiasm has waned somewhat since we started building Simon’s Coffee but I remain inspired by this actual review: “Vivid cafe house with vintage furniture and delicate accessories. It reminds me of my first encounter.”

I don’t know about you, but when I read that review, the first thought that popped into my head was: “Encounter with what exactly? Zombies?”

Helpful Tip #3: Learn to ride a unicycle

Unicycling is generally thought of as a solitary pursuit so I feel like you can do it and not break quarantine as long as you keep well away from other people. Piloting a “Uni” is good for your balance and your core strength. If you happen to unicycle past people on the street, ask them if they’ve seen the other half of your bike: the part with the handlebars.

The weird thing is that these days a lot of people won’t look directly at you when you pass them on the street: unicycle or not. I think they have all watched some old, dark, complex, violent Quentin Tarantino movie featuring zombies who shoot viruses out of their eyeballs straight into your nostrils.

Helpful Tip #4: Discover your Inner Entymologist

Yes, glad you brought this up. And yes, Entymology is not the same as Etymology. As all etymologists know, Entymology is the study of insects, not words. You never know when one letter can send your career careering off in a completely different direction. Or maybe I mean careening. Look it up.

Currently we are undergoing a shortage of Ladybugs. Some people are blaming the Russians. I myself bear no malice toward the Russians. They just seem to get blamed for a lot of stuff these days. And why don’t people just say “I”? “I myself” seems redundant. But who am I to judge?

Anyway, the Ladybug shortage is definitely a topic of concern. It’s also concerning that Ladybugs are actually beetles, not bugs. Bugs suck juices; Beetles munch and crunch. These are things I like to get to the bottom of.

However, my point here is that there is a research project called the Lost Ladybug Project (LLP for short) which is asking people to go hunt down Ladybugs, take pictures of them, note exactly where they were found and send the information to the LLP.

So if you are looking for something to do while quarantining, you can wander the fields and forests with your camera. Bring a GPS tracker. If you see a ladybug, take a picture of it and note its precise location. If you encounter other people, stare at them intently, as if you are able to shoot viruses from your eyeballs directly into their nostrils. Most likely they will keep their distance. Worst case: they will beat the crap out of you. Entymology is like that sometimes.

OK! OK! Enough already. This is getting way too long, complex, dark and violent. If you have to self-isolate you should probably just curl up with a good book in your very own quarantinarium, like this guy:

I just hope you’re not reading what he’s reading:


Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical