What will we call this when we look back?

What will we call this when we look back?
Source: Reusableart.com

Whether I’m organizing things or just trying to figure out when something started or how long it may last, I tend to use either a year (in case I need to look it up in a diary) or, if I can’t be specific, before or after an event in my life. For instance, I’m not sure of my sofa’s exact age, but I know that my mother sewed the blue velvet armrests for it. She gave up sewing when her last illness began in 1998. (Hang in there, sofa!) So that gives me a specific enough time period, late last century but before ’98.

The past two years have been littered with milestones for me, good and bad. Two of the more specific milestones are my father’s death in March 2019 and the novel coronavirus and its shelter-in-place order, which began just after the anniversary of Dad’s death. So these two years and things that I have done or acquired will be easy to label, I catch myself thinking — before or after Dad’s death and, if after, before or after… what?

This time in our lives may wind up with as many names as the dog in the picture — terrier, Jack Russell, Parson Russell, or just dog.

I won’t use the phrase I hear in so many radio ads, “this challenging time.” That’s not enough difference with last year (or many other periods in anyone’s life).

“This mess” appeals… but again, it may not be specific enough!

Sometimes I catch myself thinking of “before the virus.” But I’ve caught other viruses in my life (not COVID-19, I’m glad to say), and one laid me (un)fairly low back in 1988. For many years, I thought of that time as The Virus, with the same capital-letter voice that my parents used for The War. I’m glad that’s gone, and although I think of some things as “closed due to the virus,” I don’t confuse them with 1988.

“The Shutdown” works well — again, with that capital Seriousness that appeals, although The Shutdown as an event (or series) doesn’t.

Before Corona or During Corona seem to fit, but they sound like fighting the virus itself, like “what I like to do to feel better when I have the flu.” (I know, I know, it’s worse than flu — that’s just my comparison.) After Corona sounds a bit like drinking beer, anyway, which I don’t.

For a “before Corona’ comparison, just look back here and here to the idea I had around Jan. 1 that our main problem in 2020 was going to be jokes about vision.

I was reading the news then  about China, but I didn’t see all of this coming. Hmm, “all of this.” Nah, it is as un-specific as “this mess.”

I think I’ll go with “before the virus shutdowns” with matching “during” and (oh, pleeeease) “after” expressions. Feel free to debate in the comments.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.

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Filed under: Expressions

Tags: 2020 visions


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  • C19 (the 19 is the year it started)

  • Hi and thanks, Diana. That's a good, concise choice.You're right about the year, too. (I heard someone on talk radio ask whether there were 18 other viruses to worry about -- no, you're right, it's the year.)

  • A good question. And what will future historians call this time? The Great Pandemic, the year everything was cancelled, the year everything changed?

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you. Those are all good titles. Someday there will be shelves of books about all this, and titles do tend to come first (at least for me).

  • The main thing your essay demonstrates is the triteness of the media's current verbiage. For instance, the country has not been shut down--some restaurants and merchants have.

    This Pearls Before Swine sums it up better. As far as it goes, most places have suspended taking returns, too.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks, Jack. Even calling this a stay-at-home order omits the fact that I can go to a restaurant to pick up a meal and stop at my local pharmacy and/or grocery. I'm not staying inside constantly, at least not every day.

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