Fifty Ways to Survive a Pandemic


Be cautious.

Turn your head away from others.

Cross the street when you see someone approaching.

Don’t breathe.

Don’t speak.

Your neighbor is your enemy.

Your family is contaminated.

Potlucks are illegal.

Dancing is illegal.

Movies, the library, bars, the city park, all illegal.

Buying seeds is illegal, but only in Michigan.

Huddle on your couch with your cellphone.

Only bad citizens go outside.

Bad citizens kill good citizens just by breathing.

You are a good citizen.

You must shame others for being bad citizens.

Tracking software is a godsend and will only be used for the right reasons.

These rules are for your own safety.

Keep your distance.

I warn you, keep your distance.

How many times do I have to tell you to keep your distance.

Call the cops and have that man taken away. He stood three feet from me in line. I saw him, officer. He wasn’t wearing a mask and he coughed. Then he coughed again. Not on me, but on his nasty arm. He should be in a cell.

Order everything you need from Amazon. Then sterilize the packages with bleach and leave them on your lawn to dry.

Someone just lost his job. Someone just waited in line twelve hours at the food bank. Someone just walked forty blocks to apply for food stamps. Fortunately, none of them were you.

Check your temperature. Shake the thermometer. Fucking thing is broken. Your temperature couldn’t possibly be 94.2. Check it again.

Wash your hands so many times that they feel like the underside of an old leather purse. Apply lotion to the creases. When that runs out, use facial cream.

Try to order new facial cream from Amazon. Watch as the banner pops up: “This is not an essential item.”

It’s okay if your skin is rough, your hair is ragged, your toenails look like claws. Remember the sacrifices people made for the soldiers during World War Two.

If you must speak to someone on the street, visualize a 6-foot space in front of him, then mentally add 4 more feet for good measure. Keep it brief. Then move as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

Brag to your friends on Facebook about your toilet paper substitutes. Proudly proclaim that you don’t mind using newspaper and old towels. You’re no prima donna. Not like some of those others.

Brag to your friends on Facebook that you’re such an introvert you’ve been prepping for this all your life.

Brag to your friends on Facebook about your dinner. Include pictures.

Brag to your friends on Facebook about how long it has been since you went outside.

Brag to your friends on Facebook about your face mask ensemble. Include pictures.

Wear your face mask even while driving. You never know when you might get into a car wreck and have to breathe on someone afterward.

Better yet, don’t drive at all. Have everything delivered by couriers. Let them assume the risk.

Don’t allow your postal carrier to hand you the mail. Make sure you don’t touch it for 24 hours.

While you wait to open your mail, sit in one place and stare at the wall. It’s for national security.

If your neighbor speaks to you from his porch, pay no attention.

Spray your neighbor with a hose if he persists in talking. Then run inside and lock your doors.

Spray Listerine on every surface until your whole house smells like a wino’s mouth.

Listerine isn’t strong enough. Ask the grocery clerk for some Everclear. Watch him smirk. But wait—why are you in a store?

Keep your disgusting hands away from your mouth and eyes. Avoid all sensitive orifices. It stands to reason that masturbation is right out.

Hugging is dangerous.

Handshaking is filthy.

Kissing is filthy.

Sex is beyond filthy. Do not have sex, EVER.

Don’t even breathe on yourself. You can’t take the risk.

Wash your doorknobs. Wash your faucet handles. Wash your light sockets, Wash your counters. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

If you ever get the urge to dance, make sure you’re alone. You won’t feel much like dancing, anyway.

Leah Mueller has published books with various small presses. Her recent volumes, “Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices” (Czykmate Press), “Death and Heartbreak” (Weasel Press), and “Cocktails at Denny’s” (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere.

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