Writing Out Loud: Who’s Normal is it Anyway?

By: George Stahl
Special to the Sun

It seems impossible to think that we will not be returning to the world we knew before COVID-19. But a similar thing happened to us before. Maybe not to you or to your children, but it happened to your parents and to your grandparents.

No matter where they were in the world at the time, they were taken from their stable, predictable lives and thrust into a reality of chaos. It’s no secret that I am talking about World War II. The time when they became known as the greatest generation because of what they did to step up, to sacrifice, and to grit their teeth and bear the strain and change they were given.

This story, however, is not about them. It is not about their heroism and their way of coping with the upheaval in their lives. It is a story about us. How are we handling this momentous event in human history that we are all a part of?

What things are you gathering in your mind, things you will need to help you explain to someone who is either too young to know what they are seeing, or to someone who hadn’t been born yet about the Coronavirus of 2020?

Do you start with the toilet paper issue? Sort of an ice breaker,
or do you jump right in and start your narrative with the devastating effects of the virus.

Maybe you tell them about the lockdown. The quarantine, and the stay at home orders. Then explain to them, when they ask you, the differences between them. They all sound the same, they will say.

Do you tell them stories about what you did during the time you were captive in your own homes? The board game you and your family played, the puzzles you did, the cooking experiments you all tried, or the home improvement projects you can show them you all did together.

Remember, it’s your story, we just all happen to be telling our own versions of it. Do you dare tell them how that one time you attempted to make a prank phone call, which some of you remember, but thanks to caller ID, that was a bust.

Perhaps you can start your once upon a time with the way things were before the virus. Even though it is all different for all of us, it’s all relevant to one another.

Why? Because it’s our Kennedy time. ‘Where were you when…?’ sort of question. Kennedy has one, Bobby and Dr. King have them, The Twin Towers has one, Rodney King, major earthquakes, and the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series have them, even the election of President Trump has one.

So, where were you when COVID-19 came to America? Think about it, someone, some time may ask. He most often said phrase these days. But whenever someone says it, do they really hear themselves? What does that mean to you? To me, it’s simple. Your normal is not my normal, and my normal is probably not your normal, and you should be thankful for that too I suppose.

The point is, what is normal? The way we did things before we had 6 feet of separation between us and our fellow humans? Not having to wear a mask at the grocery store? Places of business not having to limit the number of customers they allow into their store at a time?

Not being able to fellowship in the church. Sitting at a restaurant with no salt and pepper shakers on the table, menus on throw away paper copies, talking to your server through a mask, and being greeted by the hostess with a head nod, and not so much as a fist bump, as she says, “This way please.”

This is not the way it used to be, but it is the way now, and most likely will soon be the new norm. The new norm. It sounds so reasonable and acceptable.

Why it almost just rolls off your tongue. Part of the new norm will be anything and everything designed to protect you and your fellow man. It sounds almost scarier than the virus.

For years man has been coming up with ways to outfit each other in clothing that causes various degrees of pain and suffering. In some counties, they call it torture. The mask you are wearing now will become an ordinary accessory when we come back together.

Designer mouth coverings that match your shoes. The number of customers allowed in a business at one time will be determined by the amount of social distancing space available and will replace the ‘Number of Occupancy’ we see posted now.

The fate of larger gatherings is still up in the air. They’re being allowed at all is debatable. What about amusement parks, like Disneyland and the other Resorts? The Happiest place on earth may have to prove itself to be, ‘The Most Sanitized Place on Earth’.

Major changes in our way of life have already been seen in coping with COVID-19. Changes that most of saw as temporary, until the power that be can get a handle on its spread and fatality rate. News flash people. Many of the changes will be the new norm. Our lives have changed forever. Forget what you knew, expand on what you know,