I’ve been acting like a jerk on the internet. Again. Reflexively chastising friends on Facebook for breezily referring to 2020’s viral villain by its trendy sobriquet, “the ‘Rona.” Because I hate that crap like Indiana Jones hates Nazis. Don’t get me wrong; I hate Nazis too. I have a big enough heart to hold more than enough seething rage and disgust for both–with plenty left over for the current political administration. But I digress.
After taking one of my pals to task for her dismissive ‘Rona-quote yesterday she replied, “why do you hate that name so much? And what could be the alternative Nick-name?“
Fair enough. I spewed out a quick and bile-tinted response along the lines of this:
You’ll be sorry you asked, but: just Covid-19. No nickname. No pseudonym. No alias. No tag. No hashtag. No handle. Just Covid-19 or, if you must, “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)”–the scientific equivalent of a mom who has had it up to here bellowing her child’s name off the back porch, brandishing full name like a k-bar with which she intends to eviscerate the guilty. “Elizabeth! Cora! Habersham! Get your sorry ass home RIGHT NOW.”
You know the tone. And we all know that Covid-19 has been a very bad girl. Not bad in the garters and bustier sense of the word, but bad like the Burgermeister Meisterburger or Dick Cheney. Joy-killing, breath-stealing, vomit-inducing bad.
There is nothing funny or cute about it. The virus posesses no sentience to pique with mockery, and no lighthearted irreverence will make anything better. It is serious as a blow to the back of the head with a lead pipe. When I hear that term, “Rona” used I think of mask-less, cheese-eating high school boys chortling around a keg of Coors Lite, shrugging non-nonchalantly over 1,712,818 (and counting) deaths and, even worse, the very real chance of becoming viral carriers. I think of thoughtless ass-hats who don’t give a damn.
We’re roiling in a dark shit-pit of death and despair mostly because a significant portion of our neighbors are either too ignorant or too selfish (I’m talking to you, you backwards freedom monkeys whining about your “consteetootshanal rights” to kill the rest of us) to take the virus seriously. You got us here. The very least you can do is not joke about it, no matter how much it shades that deeply felt and forcefully denied sense of utter fear and helplessness that haunts your every breathing moment. Call it by its name.