MARTHA SEZ: ‘I worry that it gives my grandchildren a false … impression of their granny’

We all had such high hopes for 2020, the Year of the Rat. Last February I wrote, “2020 will be reasonably lucky for all signs, even Rats.” Wrong again!

This year is widely reviled, mostly because of the ways COVID-19 has ravaged the lives of people in every country on the planet. As I write this, the number of people killed by the virus in this country has surpassed 300,000. More than 1 in 20 Americans have contracted it. Our lives are severely circumscribed by the precautions we take in an attempt to limit the contagion.

Some resent being told to wear a mask in public, feeling it somehow cramps their style. They should lighten up and watch comedian Randy Rainbow’s video, “Cover your freakin’ Face,” as he sings to the tune of “Put on a Happy Face:”

“You’re lookin’ awful grouchy

Cover your freakin’ face

Listen to Dr. Fauci

Cover your freakin’ face!”

I just love Randy Rainbow.

Far worse than the imposition of mask wearing are the restrictions on hanging out. Right now, we can’t safely socialize with anyone except the people we live with. Even then, a member of the household could bring in the virus.

I wanted to go to the Micheals Store in Plattsburgh to pick up some craft materials for a Christmas decoration project to share with my granddaughter, Emma, who lives in California — knowing full well that I would overspend on all kinds of alluring odds and ends before I was past the cash register, or whatever passes for a cash register at Michaels these days. It would be so much better to sit down with Emma and make clothespin dolls together to hang on the tree, but, of course, COVID. I called my friend Darla to see if she wanted to go with me.

Well, first, Darla said, she wasn’t going to Plattsburgh this season. Because, you know, COVID. She and her husband, Eddy, have to be careful. Eddy’s doctor told him that if he catches the virus that’ll be all she wrote. It will kill him.

Oh yeah, I said, COVID. How could I forget? Besides which, I shouldn’t even be riding in the car with Darla, or anyone, seeing as how I work with the public, even though I wear a mask.

People with no housemates will, if we are careful, be celebrating Christmas alone, although Emma has very kindly and patiently taught me how to use Zoom to communicate with her and her little brother, Jack. Actually, Emma would just as soon Jack did not participate, and to be fair he does seem to enjoy annoying her. Our Zoom meetings sometimes result in sibling scuffles and kerfuffles.

In case you are one of the last people in the world to know what Zoom is, here is the definition I scored from Wikipedia: “Zoom is an American communications technology company…it provides videotelephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software program and is used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education and social relations.”

My iMac is too old to use for Zoom, but I can use my phone. I look really horrible in the little window that shows me on the screen. I am sure I can’t look that way in real life, and I worry that it gives my grandchildren a false, even frightening, impression of their granny, possibly leading to nightmares or even night terrors. They don’t seem to notice, though, and I do love seeing their faces. Next time I see them in person they will be so grown up. No babyface look anymore.

We can hope that 2021 will be a brighter, healthier, happier year than 2020. We will be seeing positive results from the brand new COVID-19 vaccine, politics will simmer down, Texas will not secede again from the union and everyone will celebrate with friends and loved ones, realizing with fresh clarity how much they mean to each other (and how annoying they can be).

Palindromes, like the word “racecar,” the name “Hannah,” and Napoleon’s lament “Able was I ere I saw Elba,” read the same backwards and forwards. We have a palindrome week coming up in January: 1/20/21 through 1/29/21.

The current Year of the Rat, not unlike the presidential confirmation, lasts an unusually long time, almost 13 months, finally ending Feb. 11. We won’t even notice the Rat slinking off around a wall as the Year of the Ox begins.

Have a good week.

(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the News for more than 20 years.)