Covid-19: A Virus Mutating the Lexicon

Let’s kick this article off with a few important disclaimers:

  • Nothing is funny about Covid-19, the disease formerly known as the novel coronavirus—now not so novel.
  • Nothing is funny about the disruptions to our daily lives, our jobs, our access to resources, or the overall economy.
  • Nothing is funny about the anxiety, paranoia, and fear permeating society as those of us who are (as far as we know) uninfected seek reliable information to stay that way.
  • Nothing is funny about the misery of individuals afflicted with the illness and their vastly varying acuity levels.
  • Nothing is funny about the tragic, untimely deaths nor the lasting residual impact caused from so much loss and suffering.

Friends, my ulcerative colitis meds suppress my immune system. Type 2 Diabetes-related immunosuppression is the frosting on my danger cake. Trust me when I say that I am highly and intimately cognizant of the existential risks from this virus.

But how could I pass up an opportunity to make you giggle a little, when life so clearly sucks right now? You’re welcome.

Covid-19 stands for Co (corona) vi (virus) d (disease) -19 (started in 2019).

For the last 300 years, active epidemics occur like clockwork during the third decade of each century. Obviously, this is coincidental, but it is hard not to pause for a moment to consider the irony and timing. Any statisticians out there want to call this a trend? Geez.

  • 1720 – Resurgence of bubonic plague in Marseille kills an estimated 100,000 people.
  • 1820 – Cholera ravages south Asia, killing an estimated 100,000 people in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.
  • 1920 – Spanish flu, an H1N1 virus (recall 2009 swine flu that killed an estimated 250-500,000 people), is a global pandemic that kills an estimated 50-100 million people.
  • 2020 – Covid-19. TBD.

Covid-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person through close contact (within six feet of each other) and through droplets transferred from coughing or sneezing. There is strong evidence that touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth could also cause infection.

While still nascent, the novel coronavirus passed first from animals to humans in Wuhan, China. Racist conspiracy theories are already circulating around origins and intentions as the virus spreads across the globe today.  This writer will not fuel that discussion, as it is fucking stupid..

As a writer, however, I am fascinated by the novel words and phrases associated with the novel coronavirus that are already mutating our lexicon. Think about it. These changes can be funny when taken in the context of the impact on the language itself.

Here are a few topical words and phrases we see used more frequently these days.

  • N95. When I first heard N95, I thought it was some new workout program. I was all set to get pissed at Shaun T or Billy Blanks all over again. Nope. N95 is a respirator mask that filters airborne particles with 95% efficacy. Essential for healthcare workers. Just curious—since the government is spending so much money anyway, why can’t they manufacture enough masks for distribution to everyone?
  • Elbump. Where has this word been? Elbow bump. We have been doing this for years and never thought of this sniglet. (Anyone remember sniglets?) Shaking hands, hugging, high-fiving, and kissing are all now potentially deadly greetings. How much would Orph’s wife, Clara, love this new normal?
  • Social Distancing. Is this a completely fabricated phrase for Covid-19? The concept is to keep a safe separation between you and another person to reduce likelihood of contact transmission of a disease. Seen in practice with the herds of international travelers returning to the USA, we jam them into airports for hours adapting to the new travel restrictions. No chance they are giving each other Covid-19 while waiting in line like contagion cattle to come home, right?
  • Flattening the Curve. Refers to flattening that rate of infection over time during an epidemic to ensure the healthcare system can manage the inflow of infected patients without overloading.  For months, I have endeavored to accomplish this identical goal at the gym with my gut.  Except now I don’t go to the gym… because I might die.

Here are a few more new modifications I want added to the lexicon. Given the massive scope of my internet influence, I am confident we will see them more pervasively in the digital public square over the coming weeks and months.

  • Quarantini. It’s just a regular martini, but you drink it all alone in your house. (Love to claim this clever beauty as my own, but it is now ubiquitous on the Interwebs. Simply sharing.)
  • Vinophilia. An enhanced, potentially disordered obsession with hoarding and drinking wine to tamp down your constant, crushing anxiety.  While trapped in your house for god knows how long, with no live sports on TV, resorting to watching 90-Day Fiancé for the third time, wine makes your isolation a smidge more palatable.
  • Coronatennial. A child conceived as a byproduct of social distancing.  Depending how long we are all relegated to our homes, this could be the next Great Generation for our Brave New World. Think we Gen-X parents fucked up Millennials? Not even close.
  • Offspringing. Of course, older kids, you are welcome to come over to do your laundry… after you bathe for eighty consecutive hours in a bathtub of Purell, spend fourteen days in quarantine after your last rave, and burn your infested clothes in a pit. Mom and I have created a sterile cocoon of safety here. We’re good. Use a laundromat. FaceTime will suffice.
  • Branch Covidian. Established recently via FaceTime, Branch Covidians are a pandemic cult of bored 50-somethings bitching to each other about the End of Days. Their dynamic leader and prophet, Wayne Earl Lowell Vernon Jedediah Cyrus the Elder, seeks to plant His Holy Seed in as many female adorants as He can. Aspiring to beat wannabe David Koresh’s record of fifteen bastards, Wayne Earl is having some technical difficulties due to a recent shelter-in-place mandate. At present, he is just making a mess all over his phone. ATF and FBI are keeping tabs.
  • Bat Soup Crazy. Like bat shit crazy, this is a phrase to describe an insane conspiracy theory about how the US military concocted an infected bat soup in the Wuhan food market to decimate China. Bat? Why so exotic? Why risk the rabies? How about a nice chicken broth? I know there are cultural differences in defining food and whatnot, but barf. I doubt even Charlie Chan would eat that!
  • Loco Lolo Kiko. Filipino phrase used to describe Pope Francis encouraging your sickly, elderly parents to still attend Mass every Sunday.  That is bat soup crazy! Folks, god has her hands full right now. Stay home. Watch Sister Mary Wooden Cross on Shut-In TV. Don’t be in such a hurry to see what is on the other side.

The current challenges presented by Covid-19 make fulfilling the mission of Life Sucks Laugh Here vividly relevant. Distraction is one powerful coping mechanism that can provide some fleeting moments of stress relief. For me, laughter is the best diversion.

Maybe we can all do our part, too? Our digital relationships are more essential than ever. Now that most of us are practicing social distancing by staying home the next few months, reach out to each other while the electricity, phones, and Wi-Fi are still working.

I have a long-held belief that humanity is literally one power grid failure away from cannibalism.  Under all the trappings and illusions of ‘society’ lurks the caged beast within all of us. We placate it with bread and circuses… until those creature comforts disappear. So, reach out and touch someone before they reach out and eat you someday.  Consider yourself warned.

Life has changed for the foreseeable future.  We can either accept that fact or succumb to the fear. If you and your family are healthy, be thankful. And don’t be a pussy. Do something. Anything.

Channel your energy into improving yourself: read (fun blogs like LSLH), exercise (at home), meditate (I call this napping), masturbate (with reckless abandon). Whatever floats your boat.

Better still, channel your energy into lifting others up. 

Call a scared friend or family member. Check in with your loved ones who might already struggle with their mental health under normal circumstances. Chat with friends online. Order food and supplies from Amazon for an elderly neighbor.

Spread laughter liberally, like warm apple butter on toast. (Note to self: do not write on an empty stomach.)

Please, take care of yourselves and each other.  Stay safe.  Be smart. Keep informed. Practice distraction.

Any new words or phrases you have heard lately? Something I missed? Let’s open a digital dialogue. Scroll down to LEAVE A REPLY. Thanks!

About PS Conway

Hey everyone! Welcome to Life Sucks. Laugh Here. In my college years, I was an English major and aspiring writer. Then life took over - marriage and kids - in our mid-twenties. Like all good Catholics of Irish descent, I literally looked sideways at my wife, and she was pregnant three weeks after our wedding. And then the ride of life began. My writing took a backseat for the next twenty-five years. But now, our daughters are raised, and my wife and I are in a Renaissance phase of our lives. As I begin to write again, I see so much negativity, tribalism, and anger on social media... so many people seem to think life sucks. The only antidote to this mind-rotting negativity that I know of, albeit transient, is laughter. So, I have committed to writing and growing this blog around that singular objective... try my damnedest to provide original writing that makes people laugh. And maybe think a little, too. Hope you really enjoy. If you laugh, please share this blog with your friends so we can grow our subscriber base and online influence. We are on a mission to spread joy, mirth, cheer, yule, and good humor to as many folks as possible. Thank you for joining this effort. Sláinte! - PS Conway

19 comments on “Covid-19: A Virus Mutating the Lexicon

  1. Larry Frank

    Pat, you offer and are a beacon of light at a time we are all in need. Certainly glad that the “true you” is now being revealed even if there were times when you attempted to reduce necessary brain cells.

    Please continue to be a beacon we can ALL follow at this time of need. Plan on sharing your literary skills with others.


    • Thanks, Larry. Really kind words! Somehow I survived my 20s & 30s with enough remaining brain cells to live a highly productive 40s and now, in my 50s, trying to do a little more, maybe even give a little more, back. Appreciate any sharing you care to offer…very mission-focused with the project to spread laughter as far and wide as possible! Hope you are well. -Pat

  2. James Schorr

    Well done Pat. Laughter is the best medicine. Stay safe

  3. I was in the grocery store a few days ago and felt like just running with a cart screaming to induce pandemonium. Naturally I thought, “Conway would love this shit.” Stay healthy, pony boy.

    • Miss you brother. You have always had some such strong shared appreciation for comedic nihilism. Stay safe. Godspeed, young camper.

  4. Pat-you’ve successfully channeled your abundance of squatting in place energy into lifting us all up during these challenging times. Karen, the cat, and I sincerely thank you.

  5. MK Taylor

    Helpful! I thought you almost had the word, but consider adding ”Novinophobia “

    Fear of running out of wine! I ordered a case on line from the neighborhood wine store. Went in to the store to pick it up. Touched nothing. Said hello and looked around. They were moving merchandise like it was Christmas! Proprietor took the case to the car for me. He said liquor stores are considered “essential needs”!
    Got that right!

    Stay safe Pat! We need your twisted humor!

    • MK – ha! Love it. My wife and I woke early today, donned our PPE and procured a case of wine before all the other mouth-breathing plague spreaders were up to their selfish shenanigans. Then back home to our cocoon of safety! Please stay safe

  6. Riley Lochridge

    Pat, Glad that my good friend and long-time (and mutual) work associate (from the past), Larry shared your writing with me–it has been a number of years since we last communicated and it it real nice to know you are well–great to note your passion for writing being exercised with excellence–we all need to laugh more often, whether during times or uncertainty or not! All the best to you & your family–stay safe & well–and last, I’m already looking forward to your future posts!

    • Riley – sure has been a long time… 20+ years! So nice to hear from you and thanks to Larry for re-establishing the connection. Humbled and appreciative that you found some laughter here and hope to keep you well-entertained in the coming weeks, too. Lots more to come. All the best to you and your family!

  7. Mark Steitz

    Pat, thank you and I enjoyed it. If we do not laugh we will cry. Like you I have to be really careful too. Stay healthy! Looking forward to more posts.

  8. Loved it and learned a lot….didn’t know what Covid-19 stood for nor did I know the pattern about the 3rd decade of each month….keep them cumming!

  9. Laughter is still the best antidote! Someone on social media coined the phrase for Corona babies in 13 years: quaranteen!

  10. I love the funny challenges happening! We all need a laugh. Laughter can keep the immune system stay strong.

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