Quiet Desperation

This seems like dreams and weird extremes


Dickens memorably began “A Tale of Two Cities” with a perfect description of 2020, especially the first twelve words.

It sums up, at least in my lifetime, the current world, where extraordinarily good people are doing extraordinarily good things, and where extraordinarily bad people are doing extraordinarily bad things.

It seems where there are challenges and tragedies and vulnerabilities, some of us crawl out from the Grimpen Mire, look around, and seize the opportunity to take advantage of the situation.

I am old enough to know it comes as no surprise.

Ask Sartre.

I am one of the lucky ones. Retired, a safe home to live in, sufficient paper products, and an enviable roommate.

My roommate has no idea what is going on. That helps.

Not much has changed around here. We just go on fewer car trips.

When was the last time you filled your car’s gas tank?

Half the news is heartwarming and the other half is inconceivable.

Conspiracy theorists blame a U.S. Army reservist and mother of two for starting the pandemic. The false claims about her are spreading like the virus itself.

Lewis Carroll said, “What I tell you three times is true.”

Is there anything worse than being wrongly accused?

I was blamed for things I didn’t do when I was a kid. My sister was an angel and could do no wrong. But if she did, she cruised, because little Craig was seen as an impish lad, more capable of spilling the milk.

Alfred Hitchcock understood the effect false accusations have on someone: therefore, his films often featured someone trying to prove his or her innocence.

Best: “North by Northwest,” but also “The 39 Steps,” “The Wrong Man,” “Strangers on a Train,” and “Saboteur.”

I anticipate a 21st-century retelling of “The Grapes of Wrath.” Small business owners who have lost everything and have to find something else to do with their lives.

There will be documentaries and coffee-table books filled with haunting photographs.

And there will be humor. There already has been.

(Some of it, unfortunately, has been unintentional. Take your pick.)

The mystery, of course, is not knowing when it will be safe again to move around and commingle like always.

Some are ready to resume now. Maybe you have noticed the protests and rallies.

A woman in my birth state held up a sign that conjoined the governor’s name with Adolf Hitler’s.

Hand-lettered words beyond comprehension provided the woman with her legacy. No apology accepted.

Television commercials are outdoing themselves with soothing words instead of self-promotions. Nice, isn’t it, not to have someone blasting deep dish car and truck discounts at you?

I look forward to the day when I can go back to doing what I do best: namely, find fault in irrelevancies such as the broken English the newest National Football League millionaires gargled and tweeted when they were drafted.

And Christmas music in November.

And sitting on an airplane next to someone who talks too much. Won’t it feel good to sit on an airplane again?

ESPN and others have been showing replays of football, basketball and baseball games. Stadiums are filled with people. It looks very normal. And it looks very strange.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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