Finding the lighter side amid dark times

{child_byline}By ANDY HOWELL

Assistant Managing Editor{/child_byline}

Some historians believe the origin of the nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosie” is connected to the Great Plague.

If true, then it is an example of some pretty Dark (Ages) humor.

Currently, it does seem ironic that The Year of the Rat would begin with a plague.

It is not unusual for humor to be a defense in stressful times. The fact that we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic with the coronavirus is no different. Social media has been awash with jokes and jibes poking fun at the hysteria surrounding the pandemic, or at the disease itself.

Think toilet paper.

Yea, what is with hoarding toilet paper? Why is that the first thing people buy up in a crisis? Of all the necessities out there, toilet paper probably has the most alternative options if you run out. Paper is paper. I heard that in Casa Grande toilet paper is being sold on the black market.

Maybe I’ve been backpacking and camping too much during my lifetime when I have been forced to consider other options, either due to overuse or oversight.

A Twitter user redid the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to reflect on the fire that started this week:

Schools close, Tom Hanks, trouble in the big banks; no vaccine, quarantine, no more toilet paper seen.

Travel ban, Weinstein, panic COVID-19; NBA, gone away, what else do I have to sayyyyyy lacking of packing.

Another Twitter thread came up with scenarios for “The Office” if it were still on the air. One would have Michael ignoring the corporate memo to work from home and require everyone to come in because “this is a time people need to be near one another.”

A friend of mine lamented on social media about the canceled basketball season, baseball season (postponed) and NHL season. “Why not tax season?”

Comedian Michael Che, co-host of “Weekend Update” and co-head writer for “Saturday Night Live,” has refused to do coronavirus jokes because if he ends up getting the disease and dying the clips of his routines would live on forever as his legacy.

I guess the same could be said for me writing about the topic. But I figure I don’t have much of a legacy as it is, so what the heck.

My adult daughter is a health promotion specialist in Utah. She works for an independent grocer that supplies produce to numerous school districts and restaurants in the Salt Lake City area. She told me how she had to barter and negotiate to get enough hand sanitizer for her drivers. She was able to get enough masks for them through some Korean connections.

Listening to her explain all the hoops she had to jump through to secure the items made me laugh. She ended the discussion with “And I even got two for you and Mom.”

She said she was worried about us, which was comforting considering how much worry she caused my wife and me when she was a teenager.

It’s payback time and I plan to enjoy the moment.

As for the masks, these were the high-end versions that came with three pages of instructions, which might come in handy with the toilet paper shortage and all.

Don’t get me wrong, the coronavirus outbreak is a serious matter and we should all take precautions to prevent its spread, just as we would with any other contagion.

However, panic never improves a situation.

Watching the stock market crash because of fears of what the pandemic might do to the global economy is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We may look back and say it was the reaction to the coronavirus, rather than the virus itself, that caused the disruption in economic production and distribution.

Watching my retirement savings in my 401(k) go down the toilet has been distressing.

And me without any toilet paper.


You can reach Andy Howell at