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Ominous Ominousness

By T. Michael Stone

When the Lakelife Editor asked if I would write a humor column for an upcoming issue of the magazine, I reluctantly agreed to give it a try. My reluctance to write the column was born of uncertainty, and I wondered if any humor at all could be mined from the gloomy dungeons of 2020.

It seems everyone on the planet is upset about something: climate change, systemic racism, the utterly inane chatter provided by Joy Behar, transgender inequalities or President Trump's never ending attempts to win an election he clearly seems to have lost. I think next time the Bank of Madison sends me a bank statement, I will have them keep counting my money until they come up with a number that suits me.

After the death toll from COVID-19 began to climb back in April, jokes were actually prohibited by the CDC and WHO because of fears a laughing person would spread the virus more effectively than a sourpuss. As a result, Dave Chapelle was detained in a Cuban prison in the interest of national security for the entire month of May.

The coronavirus death toll has been a valuable tool for politicians who want to hang said deaths around the necks of their political adversaries. I've heard CNN blame President Donald Trump for the death of 100,000 Americans, and Fox News likes to blame New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for the death of thousands of elderly New Yorkers he might have failed to protect even though he wrote a self-serving book called “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” But you can’t blame Andrew. Nobody read his book but him.

I’d like to know how many deaths I can blame on that mask-less woman pushing her buggy the wrong way down a one-way Walmart snack aisle back in April. I actually fled the store when I saw her catatonic husband come around the corner coughing like he had a pack-a-day habit and her six drooling younguns sneezing and blubbering and wiping excess mucus on bags of tortilla chips.

Super Spreader event on aisle 10!

When the first tests for COVID-19 became widely available, I was shocked to learn that the test involved sticking a pipe cleaner up your nose until one end of it came out of your ear (the test is also being used to determine if it is true that all liberals have empty heads or just the ones who read The Washington Post).

But let me ask you a question: If you have to stick something that far up your nose to collect droplets containing the coronavirus, why on earth is social distancing necessary? Sneezes that could expel droplets lodged that deep in your skull would be powerful enough to measure using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale and could endanger high profile vehicles on the highway.

Speaking of the Saffir-Simpson scale, we had so many hurricanes last year that I grew weary of the way they are named and the aforementioned scale that rates them from Category 1 to Category 5. In 2020, we had 29 named storms with pedestrian monikers like Hanna, Laura, Sally, Delta, Zeta and Eta. But all those names become ominous as the category rating increases.

And we are overdosing on ominous these days. My son tells me that hurricane forecasts are supposed to be frightening, but I believe it is time to fight back against the fear mongers in the United States government.

I suggest that in order to take some of the ominousness out of hurricane forecasts, we name the storms after cartoon characters. I have already prepared a list for next year: It begins with Atom Ant followed by Bullwinkle, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Deputy Dawg, Eyeore, Foghorn Leghorn, Goofy, Homer Simpson, Inspector Gadget and continuing alphabetically until we get to Yosemite Sam. If we exhaust those, we go back to the beginning with Aquaman, Bugs Bunny, Casper, Daffy Duck, etc.

And while we're making that change, let's get rid of Saffir-Simpson mathematics. From now on all Category 1 and 2 hurricanes will be known as Merry Melodies and Category 3 and 4 storms will be known as Looney Tunes. Category 5 hurricanes will be known as Super Chickens. Thus, you might hear the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore explain that, "Foghorn LegHorn, I say Foghorn Leghorn, has been upgraded from a Looney Tune to a Super Chicken this morning. But right now I say it's so quiet around here you could hear a caterpillar sneaking across a moss bed in tennis shoes."

Such a forecast wouldn't send people into a panic and have them nailing plywood to outhouses in West Virginia.


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