Confessions of a Misanthrope in a Time of Pandemic

Updated: 6 days ago



If someone had told me before this COVID-19 pandemic to go spend time away from people, they would not have had to tell me twice. I am misanthrope. People have always bothered me. For good reason, and for no reason at all.

They talk too loudly. They take too long. They are boring. Too many of them like bad music. They smell. They chew gum. They chew gum too loudly. They exist.

I am not proud that I am this way. I believe, too, this says far more about myself than it does about others. And what it says about me is nothing good, at all.

I have been locked down in my Albany home for more than three weeks now as we strive to flatten the coronavirus curve. It looks like I will be stuck here for another month, too, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his stay-at-home order will remain in place across New York State until May 15, at least.

My kids are grown and out of the house. My wife is an essential worker and gone 15 hours each day. So, it’s just me and my dog, Greta, who can’t figure why the hell I’m suddenly home all the time.

My office has been closed, so I’ve been working from home, and that’s not a problem. I’ve always been decent at working remotely, so staying focused is not an issue when I’m on the clock. But when I’m off? My God, what a disaster.

Who the hell knew there were so many hours in a day?

I keep telling myself I’ll workout, but my motivation sucks.

I’m bored, so I keep eating. Badly. I now exist solely on peanut M&Ms and frosted Entenmann’s cherry pies.

I’m grouchy. Grouchier than usual. How the hell is that even possible? I’m beginning to hate me, even more than I normally do. Hell, even my dog hates me now. I pick up her chew toy and throw it across the room, expecting her to chase after and bring it back. But she just looks at me and walks away, as if to say, “Yeah, bite me.”

I’m restless, but I have no idea what to do. What can I do? Everything is closed.

To break the monotony of isolation, I have been hopping in my car each afternoon and taking a drive downtown. And there, I see people: running, biking, skateboarding, walking their dogs. Were it not for the surgical masks they wear, you would hardly even know there was a pandemic. It is beautiful, and I realize exactly what it is I miss.

I don’t just miss stopping for coffee every morning on my way to work. I miss stopping for coffee and getting pissed off because I’m stuck behind some glorious maniac ordering what amounts to a 1200-calorie milkshake disguised as coffee.

I don’t just miss eating at my favorite restaurant. I miss being annoyed by the fabulous moron sitting in the next booth, who’s talking way too loudly about their gallbladder surgery and recovery while I’m trying to eat.

I don’t just miss drinking at my favorite bar. I miss shaking my head in disgust at the marvelous knob sitting next to me as I eavesdrop on him telling a story that I know is total and complete bullshit.

Dammit.

I don’t want to admit this — especially since the very thought conjures up the image of Barbara Streisand singing that godawful song “People who need people …” — but it’s actually people that I miss.

I miss their dumb faces. I miss their annoying voices. I miss their obnoxiousness and stupidity. I miss everything about them that I’ve always despised.

Oh my God, what is wrong with me?

And I call myself a misanthrope?

Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning you start dying.” Well, after a half-century on Earth, here’s what I’ve learned, and it only took a deadly worldwide pandemic to teach me:

I’m not just a misanthrope. I’m a misanthrope who really needs people.

So, go ahead. Cue up some Streisand.

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