A Look On The Lighter Side: Other problems for other times


I, like most of you — I hope! — have spent a lot of time marooned inside my own home, lately.

I’m squinting at the level of liquid soap in all the dispensers in the house; rationing toilet paper, and going more or less insane. Out of the house? No! Out of my mind? Absolutely.

It is getting harder every day to look on the lighter side. Still, sometimes a little good news breaks through. For example, Tom and Rita Hanks have now been released from the Australian hospital where they recovered from coronavirus, and are now back home in Los Angeles. Self-isolating.

It reminded me that there are worse places for self-isolating than my own home.

For example, I could be on a desert island, like the one where Tom Hanks’ character Chuck Noland found himself stranded in the movie “Castaway,” with nothing but some boxes and a volleyball for company.

The original idea for the film was Hanks’, but I read that the volleyball idea came to the film’s writer, William Broyles, Jr., while he chose to strand himself for a week on an isolated beach in Mexico. He wanted some idea of what the character might be facing. During that time, a volleyball apparently washed up on his beach.

By contrast, I’m in the lap of luxury, with both a functioning couch and color TV!

I even have a yard! Sure, it’s small, and when you stay six feet away from every boundary, it’s even smaller. Just big enough to admire the awesome crop of weeds I am apparently growing, this year.

Or I could be in the International Space Station, with no place to go, at all. You can’t even go out for a walk without a big production. So you stay in and watch the news.

“Hey, Judy, wouldja mind changing the channel away from the news? I’ve had enough of that to last me a lifetime, and there’s a Fast and Furious marathon I’d like to watch.”

“Judy? Igor? Remember it’s my turn next?” says Harold. “And I promised my kids I’d watch the Harry Potter marathon with them, as much as possible, so switch over!”

“Jeez! Can’t you wait a few minutes?” I complain. “I’d be happy to just watch Earth out the window but we’re still on the night side, now, and there’s nothing to see. It’s not as if we’ve got 500 channels of cable TV up here…”

“Or a DISH satellite.”

“Are you kidding?” says Igor. “Of course we’ve got satellite — we ARE a satellite!”

“Yeah, it doesn’t mean what you think it does,” corrects Harold. “Yes, we orbit the Earth, but it doesn’t mean we can get other satellite TV channels. So don’t be a remote control hog — either of you!”

“Don’t call me names,” I say, “or you’ll be sorry!”

“Yeah, yeah, what are you gonna do about it, Judy? Go stomping out of the capsule? You can’t even get your space pants on by yourself. Plus there’s nowhere to go!”

“Watch me. Open the pod bay door, Hal.”

“I’m sorry Judy, I can’t do that.”

“Okay, I’ll do it myself.”

“You know that’s a bad idea….”

At least on Earth, when someone takes the batteries out of her stubborn roommate’s remote control, the batteries don’t go floating around the cabin!

Going back even farther in time — what must it have been like for Mr. and Mrs. Noah? Cooped up almost literally, with chickens and ducks and every animal on Earth plus their own extended family?

“Noah, when you agreed to do this for God — did He give you any suggestions for what to do with all the poop?”

“He was a little vague about the details.”

“And you decided to do this anyway.”

“Well, of course! When God tells you to do something, you don’t exactly turn Him down. Besides, what was the alternative? He said there’d be a flood, and you can’t swim.”

“I know, but really — elephants?”

“That’s why there’s a poop deck.”

“Argh! So God decided to wash away all the evil in the world — leaving me with you, and your puns and your poop jokes? I can’t take it anymore!”

And she dove off the side of the Ark, never to be heard from again.

I’m hoping, for her sake, that she washed up on Tom Hanks’ island.


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