“Mama in the Time of Corona” or “This is Your BLANK on Corona”
A SERIES. One woman’s take on modern life, a deadly virus, and the consequent what-the-F sandwich.
by Erin Ryan Burdette
This is the FIRST of a SERIES in response TO THE CORONA VIRUS. (Not to be confused with the other “series” function on Medium; by Series, I mean several stories I will post that cover the same topic from different angles). My hope is an ensuing dialogue between writer and reader. This is meant to be a CONVERSATION.
And I’m giving you, dear Reader, a choice on the title. Hey, no problem. You’re welcome. I’m super interactive. You should know this about me if we’re going to hang out.
Okay, first TITLE option: Mama in the Time of Cholera
For those with a literary bent — this is in homage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez — one of the 20th century’s most noteworthy authors; a Columbian best known for novels who won the Nobel Prize in 1982, a wildly imaginative genius who achieved both critical acclaim and commercial success. No easy feat. Marquez popularized “Magic Realism,” an innovative literary device utilizing magical elements in an otherwise realistic narrative.
You’ll notice, or maybe I should point out, that my title, “Mama in the Time of Corona” duplicates the syntax to one of Marquez’s most crucial novels, “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985).
Hey ya’ll, no! I am NOT comparing my writing to that of a Nobel Prize winner, a brilliant prolific famous admittedly much older Columbian man. Merely exploring the madhouse that is currently America exposed to the Corona virus. The title popped into my head. In my defense, Marquez has been on my mind in an organic fashion: my son just finished reading Marquez’s other most significant novel, “100 Years of Solitude,” an achievement, if only for the length of the thing and that’s the least of it. At any rate, the manner in which I suggest this title is both loving and reverential.
However. I can be flexible. I don’t want to start off shaky. This is, in many ways, our first date. An initial literary rendezvous. I offer an alternative should the first option leave you listless. How’s your 80’s pop culture?
Second title option: This is Your BLANK on Corona.”
You may remember that Reagan-era PSA, “This is your brain on drugs.” Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” times? (I’m dating myself here. If you’re in your twenties or even your thirties, you’ll have no clue what I’m talking about.) No matter. Just envision. A man holds up an egg, “This is your brain on drugs.” Then points to a frying pan on the stove and adds, “This is drugs.” Cracks the egg in the pan, fries it, and — just in case you’re not very with it — says “This is your brain on drugs.” He looks at the camera and addresses whomever might be watching. Which could be a lot of people. “Any questions?” he asks.
I was 17 in 1987 when that aired. And while my friends and I made fun of it — basically anytime an egg was near, just add smartass — but it must have been effective as that was lifetimes ago and I still remember it — and the message therein — in 80’s Technicolor.
So, there you have it.
This title option follows the basic grammar of the catchy “This is your Brain on Drugs” ad of the Flashdance era, only my version is “This is Your ________ on Corona.” Now the blank could be filled with a plethora of words. That’s the fun here. A few off the top of my head: yoga, school, Zoom, daughter’s 10th birthday, walks, social media, theater, senior year, life expectancy, puppy, improvisation, slowing down, online shopping, pregnancy, health workers, election, bank account, ability to knit, etc. (*If you have a topic you want to explore, feel free to leave it in the comments. Perhaps I’ll start a social experiment in your honor! Or we could collaborate. The possibilities really are wide open.)
Regardless which title suits you, my goal in this SERIES is to investigate the myriad ways in which the virus has affected us all and what we can glean moving forward. I’ll consider the small, the smaller, the big, the huge, and some middles. Some tongue in cheek, some serious, some surprising, all sincere.
In the interest of fruitful interaction/discourse, a short confession: My DNA cocktail shook out from both sides of the sapling piping full of depression, anxiety and a slew of other acronyms. Environmentally, Watson and Skinner would have a field day. Let’s just say I’ve got my demons. But I consider humor my saving grace. Humor and irony to examine a collective experience is my earnest attempt to connect, learn, grow, understand, and ultimately get through. Because the only way out is through, right?
I often don’t know quite what I think or believe until I write about it.
NOW THE NEXT PART IS KEY: The ever-important discussion between writer and reader — us, ya’ll! — that hopefully takes these thoughts to the next level and makes it a conversation. I’m not so interested in definitive answers as thought-provoking banter. Let’s ask this question together and welcome diverse responses:
What does it mean to be an American (a human being?) in the middle of a pandemic in 2020?
But you know, ya’ll. YOU GOTTA BRING IT.
Follow me in the coming days and weeks as I add more stories that answer this question and let’s tease it apart together.
(Btw, if you skew more traditional, you could always think “The Corona Chronicles.” You know. Whatever gets you there.)